Book Arts

The Cover of a Book is the Beginning of a Journey
Arnolfini, Bristol
22nd November – 18th January 2009

Curated by Arnolfini, the Centre For Fine Print Research, University of the West of England and the Performance Re-enactment Society


Building on Arnolfini’s recent approach to more experimental formats for presenting art, this exhibition uses a specific tendency in artists’ bookworks to generate an energetic series of events and activity. Focusing on books that either offer sets of instructions or are derived from instructions – the books unsettle the usual distinctions between writers and readers, artists and audiences, and act as prompts to go beyond the conventions of reading.

Partly drawing from Arnolfini’s archive, which includes several hundred artists’ books – many dating from the 1960s and 1970s, and from the artist book collection at the University of the West of England, the exhibition presents a whole range of publications by renowned and emerging artists including: Angela Bulloch, Sophie Calle, Melanie Carvalho, Don Celender, Douglas Huebler, Boem Kim, Alison Knowles, Jonathan Monk, Ed Ruscha and Lawrence Weiner amongst others.

The title for the exhibition was determined by the instruction from Jonathan Monk‘s artist book ‘Meeting #13’.

As part of the exhibition you are able to download, print and make your own copy of artist Duncan Speakman‘s book ‘for every step you take I take a thousand’ (2007). The book also has an accompanying soundtrack, to be played whilst reading (download at

If you have access to a motor vehicle, and would like to join in a ‘do-it-yourself’, multiple location, mass participatory performance event of George Brecht’s ‘event score’ Motor Vehicle Sundown on the 10th January, you can download, print and make the set of instruction cards required to participate at

Beginning in unison, performers follow a set of 22 instructions, drawn from a pack of 44 shuffled cards, to carry out a sequence of actions using their motor vehicles.

We would like you to take part, wherever you are in the world, whether by yourself or with groups of friends. All you will need is a motor vehicle – car, boat, moped, sit and ride lawnmower, whatever vehicle you like – and the instructions that Brecht wrote in 1960, downloaded ready from the website as above.

On Sat 17th Jan 2009 there will be free screenings throughout the day featuring films from Ed Ruscha, Emily Wardill and Jonathan Monk.

16 Narrow Quay
Bristol BS1 4QA
Tel: 0117 917 2304

Exhibition open 10am – 6pm (Closed Mondays)

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