| Quiet Room at Bower Ashton Library, UWE, Bristol
Book Art Object Edition 4 Part I
4th March – 14th April 2013
It is a great pleasure to introduce Part I of this exhibition at UWE; Part II will be following later in June 2013. Little did I know in 2010 when I made the artist’s book An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen that three years later I would be the very delighted and honoured recipient of 100 artists’ books based on that book!
This wonderful turn of events began in 2002, when Tanya Peixoto introduced me to Kurt Johannessen‘s work at bookartbookshop in London. I was instantly hooked and have followed his work ever since, buying new books for my collection as soon as they come out. Johannessen is a Norwegian artist whose books are based on elements of his performances. My absolute favourite is his little pocket book Exercises (2001) – a small book of performative texts such as ‘Kiss the wind’ or ‘Follow a snail for a day’. The book has been reprinted in several editions since 2001, and a new related book Other Other Exercises was released in December 2012. These instructional books ask the reader to perform various exercises, which Johannessen says most people never try. One of those exercises is ‘Write 100 stories and bury them in the forest’, which I decided I really wanted to do. I wrote to Kurt Johannessen explaining my intentions and he gave his permission for me to do this. So I did.
As I was going to Denmark for the Doverodde Book Art Festival in May 2010, it seemed the perfect opportunity to write my 100 short stories in an exercise book beforehand, and bury the book in the beautiful forest surrounding the Limfjordscentret in Doverodde where the festival is held each year. This was duly done, with the book being buried in a secret woodland location by two volunteers so I wasn’t tempted to revisit and dig it up again. From the writing of the stories to the journey of the book to its burial I made a documentary style artist’s book, sending one copy to Kurt Johannessen, and released it as an unlimited edition, free download, print and assemble yourself book.
After this I thought nothing more of it, until I talked about Johannessen’s books at the Impact Printmaking conference at Monash University, Melbourne and mentioned my obsession with his work, and doing the exercise of the 100 stories I had written and buried. Sara Bowen, founder of the Book Art Object international artists’ books collective was in the audience, and to my utter delight, she asked afterwards if Book Art Object could use the 100 titles of my stories to interpret into 100 artists’ books for their Edition 4. Book Art Object has evolved from a close-knit group of 8, to more than 50 international artists over their four editions. Edition Three (2011) took as its starting point Art and Lies by Jeanette Winterson, Edition Two (2011) used the poem Paper Wrestling by New Zealand poet Claire Beynon, and the first edition (2010) was in response to the poem Learning Absence, 1986 by Rosemary Dobson.
Artists were invited to sign up, and were each allocated a title; some signed up for more than one, with all 100 titles allocated by 2012. Artists were then divided into groups, each making an edition of books large enough to send one to other artists in their group, a set for the Book Art Object archives and a set for myself as the lucky recipient of all 100!
Over the last six months artists in Australia, Canada, Europe, South Africa and the USA have been sending their books to each other and to Sara Bowen. Bowen has been photographing them all as they come in, and has sent the first fifty books of the total edition that are on display here.
I am so grateful to all the artists who have taken part in Edition Four, and to Sara Bowen for the initial idea, and for coordinating and photographing all the finished books. I would never have dreamed when making my book tribute to Kurt Johannessen, that it could spiral into 100 other books being made, and that I would be lucky enough to be given a copy of each of them. I guess we should never underestimate the power of a book!
Sarah Bodman, March 2013
Download your own DIY copy of An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen to print out and assemble
Book Art Object Group: http://bookartobject.blogspot.com