New Wave : artists' publishing in the 21st Century
Exhibition, as part of the Impact Printmaking Conference
School of Creative Arts, University of the West of England, Bristol
15th - 19th September 2009

Public viewing day Tuesday 15th September 10am - 5pm : online gallery

This exhibition forms part of a two-year AHRC funded research project which aims to extend and sustain critical debate of what constitutes an artist's book in the 21st Century - in order to propose an inclusive structure for the academic study, artistic practice and historical appreciation of the artist's book.


The project is archived to date (, with free downloads of essays, interviews, podcasts and papers from the seminars, study visits, events and 2-day conference already undertaken as part of the project. We are still working on more interviews, surgeries, case studies and events for the project until early 2010, when we will publish all our findings on the website.

New Wave is an exhibition demonstrating examples of concepts and formats of artists' publishing. The exhibition is displayed over two rooms, a hands-on room of 133 artists' books, and a reference book reading room of contextual publications, alongside which we are showing copies of altered Artist's Book Tree diagrams from our online artists' books survey.

For this exhibition, we have been looking at examples of the huge variations of artists' books, from traditional crafts to experimental works. These offer a range of concepts and formats of artists' publishing, from knitted books to i-pod publications, free download e-books, hypertext works, phone-based works, POD books, letterpress, hand printed etc. We are not really concerned with categorising books by format, these are all about content; a small mirror of the world, books that are political, observational, reflective, humorous, calls to action, treatises, books that talk to each other, books that question our relationship with both the word and the world. The subjects range from politics, humour, war, love, death, travel, snails, performance, religion, romance, books about other artists' books, conversations, corrections, language, history, equal rights, days in the country, generative texts, reassemblings, DIY books…


The 133 artists' books featured in this show are by no means an overall view of global contemporary artists' publishing, but a snapshot of the range of ideas and formats in this part of the 21st Century. We have witnessed the rise of the e-reader - which has yet to prove to be a mainstream tool for artists' publications, but mobile phone books have really taken off, to the extent that in Japan, books previously published solely on mobile phones are now being produced as paperback books for the wider market.

As part of the projects we have interviewed artists, curators, academics, students, gallerists and publishers etc. to discuss many aspects of the contemporary artist's book.


Below is a small selection of audio, interviews, papers and text works from the project to date, which we think offer important views in discussing the state of the book, and we hope provide a range of information on the artist's book in the 21st Century:

An interview with the Russian artist Dmitry Sayenko - where he discusses his hand-printed books and the state of book arts in Russia.

An interview with L. Vandergrift Davala, who works across a number of disciplines to discuss how interactive digital technologies can be used in the production of book works.


An interview with Sally Alatalo in her Sara Ranchouse publishing studio in Chicago, on the concepts behind her publications and multiples.

Andi McGarry - a presentation from our artists' books conference in July where he explains how he moved from handmade books to YouTube publications.

Radoslaw Nowakowksi - as part of a fact-finding mission to Poland for the project we interviewed the writer and artist Nowakowski about his own books and the development of artists' books over the last 20 years in Poland. He recounts the history of his transition from manual typewriter and carbon paper to hypertext works.


seekers of lice -
// escape routes exist // vault // a performative text work from our conference in July - do you take risks?

Maria Fusco - writer, critic and editor, Director of Art Writing at Goldsmiths College in London. Discussing alternative methods of distribution, with particular focus on contemporary artists' projects that challenge conventional boundaries of production and presentation (from seminar 1 seminar08.htm). She also talks about
Doom Knots, her own artist's project using Bluetooth to transmit a daily series of short texts to office workers in London.


We have archived each book in the online gallery with information on each of the books.

You can also download a list of the reference books in the Reading Room.

For more information please see our AHRC project page.

Sarah Bodman / Tom Sowden

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