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ARTISTS' BOOKS

As the term “artist’s book” covers a broad field of artistic production with fuzzy boundaries, please consider the following text as an inspiration and/or guideline for your contributions:

Art theory defines artists’ books as a specific art genre comprising visual artworks that present artistic ideas in book form, relating to the book’s specific conceptual and physical properties.

Artists’ books are multimedia and transmedia art forms, characterized by the hybridization of the textual and the visual, reading and viewing, literary culture and the visual arts. Bringing various disciplines together, artists’ books create liminal spaces that uncover new relations between, for instance, the private and the public, the aesthetic and the political, the gift and the commodity. These spaces are platforms for the expression of new artistic and aesthetic contents; they function as communication tools that reveal new aesthetic and cultural paradigms, processes of political mobilization, and the effects of ideology.

The history of artists’ books, almost two centuries long, is informed by ongoing research of the medium and its mutations. The beginnings of the genre can be identified in William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Songs of Innocence and of Experience in which Blake’s approach to text and images differed from that otherwise used in illustrated books. He created the prototype of what came to be known as the artist’s book. Numerous artists, above all the avant-gardes and those inspired by or relating to them, discovered the endless possibilities in the hybridization of the visual and the written in book form. Artists’ books became a specific form of expression of artistic ideas that was different from the illustrated book, the livre d’artiste, fine press, and book art.

Always open to the new, artists’ books are certainly ready for the new digital age we live in. New computer and internet technologies pose fresh challenges to the genre precisely because of their constitutive feature, i.e. the capability of overcoming the limitations of their own medium. Today, artists’ books face a vast range of development possibilities that bring new approaches to, and considerations of, what constitutes bookness in a haptic and cultural sense as well as within the new field of the digital.