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Le livre au risque des artistes

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Le livre au risque des artistes

16/11/2005 - 1/2/2006

 

The book is a truly traditional medium. We hear at regular intervals that the book is dying, swept away by the new image and text media in the form of records, videos and computer technology. Within this controversy, what place does the artist's book occupy? What is it, where is it, how should it be looked at, how should it be bought, what should be done with it? So many questions are attached to this category of works of art that is the direct product of the major upheavals in art that have characterised the end of the twentieth century, since the Sixties, deeply affecting the status of the artist and the nature of his/her work.

Thus the place taken by poetic and theoretical language in contemporary art is particularly important. Marcel Duchamp right at the beginning of the last century, the Fluxus movement and the conceptual artists fifty years later, opened up a breach in the classical duality of idea and form, container and content, proposing that the "concept" alone should suffice to create a work of art and at the same time suggesting the abolition of the frontier between art and life. In this context, the book has been able to appear as a necessary instrument for writing down and passing on the artist's propositions.

It would be bold to offer a definition, since it would be exclusive; art has ceased to accommodate classifications, categories, and labels. For the exhibition we have nevertheless adopted a benchmark definition, while avoiding the systematic disregard of works that seem to meet a broader definition and would fall more into the category of bibliophily and art publishing.
The artist's book is not an illustrated book (a pleasing combination of images and text).
It is not a book as an object that will make up for the supposed disappearance of the traditional book.
The artist's book is a work of art in its own right. It may be defined in terms of an original creation (either unique or multiple) in which the activity consists of bringing together and combining elements such as texts and images or other plastic elements, making it the object of a coherent creative attempt that appears in the final object.

The exhibition will offer a panorama of artist's books from the collections of Strasbourg's libraries, the MAMCS and the FRAC Alsace, together with works produced by artists from the region, for whom the book occupies an important place in their creative work. Why has the artist chosen this medium? What is his/her purpose?
As visitors view the exhibition they will be able to ask themselves whether the traditional form of the book (with pages, in a specific order, for instance) is necessary for a book to exist; if it is enough, if it is at the heart of the artist's method, and how (whether positively or more as a reference point at the start of an totally different proposition), etc.
Is it not quite simply a work of that that we discover, with the specific features of the book, but above all with its meaning, its mysteries, its poetry and its freedom?

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