Artists’ Books Exhibition, Bower Ashton Library cases, UWE, Bristol, UK
2nd February – 1st March 2015
The informal group ‘B-Open bokkkunstgruppe’, based in Bergen, Norway, grew out of a reading circle organised by Imi Maufe in 2013 for B-Open, the organisation for Bergen’s open studios. Since 2013 the group have met several times in studios and libraries sharing ideas and experiences of artists’ books.
In early 2014 Doverodde Book Art Centre invited B-Open bokkunstgruppe to organise an exhibition of Norwegian books for ‘3 Nordic Exhibitions’. Norske bøker (Norwegian books) is the result and has since been shown at Bergen Art Book Fair (BABF) in November 2014. The next part of the tour takes the collection to UWE and then onto BABE 2015.
As with most trends, focus on artists’ books has arrived late to Norway, with the last few years seeing an upward turn in interest and production. BABF was the first Norwegian artist’s book fair in 2013 and is still the only one held in the country. The New York Art Book Fair 2014 presented NORWAY FOCUS: KUNSTNERBØKER,a curated selection of 23 Norwegian booksellers, institutions, artists and independent publishers. Artists’ books are getting a bit of the attention they deserve in Norway, and by bringing Norske bøker to Bristol we hope to put Norway on the map in the UK too.
Norske bøker is a collection of 45 book works by 25 artists. They are not necessarily books about Norway, not all are made by Norwegian artists, but are made by artists living in Norway, or are about projects based in the country. The collection shows a variety of books and book works, from the digital printed and published book complete with ISBN numbers to one-off altered books.
There have of course been artists working with books in Norway for a long time. Kurt Johannessen has been publishing artists’ books since the 1980s under the imprint Zeth. Nine of his books are shown including Exercises, Other Exercises and Other Other Exercises, one of his best selling collection of books.
Rita Marhaug’s large hand-bound screen and photogravure printed book is about a family visiting an elderly relative in a nursing home set to the melancholic text from the film ‘The Sheltering Sky’, 1990 by Paul Bowles.
Erik Friis Reitan’s photographic 10-metre long scroll explores the inside of a Norwegian forest, taking the reader on a 920º view with the trees coming in and out of focus.
Randi Annie Strand contributes three books, two of them in collaboration with Ivar Orvedal. The latest book Berøringsstrofer (Lines of Touch) plays with visual and Braille texts along with embossed imagery running side by side for use by both sighted and visually impaired readers.
Swedish artist Sarah Jost’s series of three altered books are about the home, and homesickness, referring to the artist’s move to Norway, but also about listening to the planet that is our home. The Swedish title translates as "Listen to the whispering of the spruce on which roots, your nest is attached."
As an foreigner living in Norway Imi Maufe’s books are investigations into Norwegian culture, exploring the country by different modes of transport: buses, skis, bikes.
Other books in the collection are by Anna Bjørkman, Åsne Eldøy, Hans Kristian Borchgrevink Hansen, Johnny Herbert, Lisa Him-Jensen, Sarah Jost, Terence Koh, Anne Knutsen, Lewis & Taggart, Elida Brenna Linge, Malin Lennström-Örtwall, Karen Helga Maurstig, Julie Lillelien Porter, Elly Prestegård, Petra Rahm, Elisabet Alsos Strand, and Susanna Kajermo Törner.
All 45 works pack into a crate measuring 58 x4 0 x 45 cm, which means it can be transported by bike where necessary!