Exhibition — Please do not place drinks on vitrines or books

Please do not place drinks on vit­rines or books is an exhib­i­tion of pub­lic­a­tions and com­pen­di­ums on artists’ books open­ing on April, 18th 2011 at Focal Point Gal­lery in Essex…

Start­ing with Germano Celant’s exhib­i­tion pamph­let and cata­logue from 1972, Book as Art­work, and con­tinu­ing through examples from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s to new pub­lic­a­tions, the show aims to present an over­view of the recep­tion of a rel­at­ively recent crit­ic­al art form. This wide vari­ety of mater­i­al, which ranges from exhib­i­tion cata­logues to artists’ mono­graphs, ref­er­ence books, deal­ers‹ lists and book­lets, not only con­sti­tutes the accep­ted sec­ond­ary lit­er­at­ure on artists’ books; it reflects the inter­sec­tion of art and pub­lish­ing, and shows how this sub­ject has been appraised and under­stood over a sig­ni­fic­ant peri­od of time.

The ques­tion of the bound­ary between art and books is rel­ev­ant to this exhib­i­tion. Pub­lish­ing is an essen­tial aspect of art: magazines, exhib­i­tion cata­logues, eph­em­era and invit­a­tion cards con­nect the real

and sym­bol­ic eco­nomy of visu­al art; if this pro­duc­tion and dif­fu­sion of prin­ted mat­ter medi­ates and repro­duces art, it also often becomes an art form in its own right.

Yet con­sid­er­ing a book as an art­work in its own right is not as straight­for­ward as it first seems, and the con­tinu­ously vex­ing ques­tion of the defin­i­tion of the term ‘artist’s book’ owes a lot to the ever-chan­ging nature of art’s defin­i­tion. In one respect, the func­tion of the book as a medi­um con­spires to cre­ate a mul­tiple art that claims a demo­crat­isa­tion or anti-elit­ism, yet the field is also littered with con­tra­dict­ory state­ments on the nature and defin­i­tion of the art­work.

In essence, the pur­pose of this par­tic­u­lar pro­ject is to give vis­ib­il­ity to a mar­gin­al art pub­lish­ing activ­ity, as well as books that doc­u­ment and sur­vey a spe­cif­ic form of pro­duc­tion that has taken place over the last sixty years. Per­haps it is fit­ting that Desjardin’s pro­ject about artists’ pub­lish­ing should take place with­in a gal­lery in a region­al pub­lic lib­rary, a minor site where the book and art­work co-exist.

With­in this con­text, Desjardin’s index or cata­logue of inform­a­tion will in turn become a new book prin­ted dur­ing the peri­od of the exhib­i­tion, and the gal­lery will become the loc­a­tion for the pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of this new piece of prin­ted mat­ter, appro­pri­ately named the ‘Book on books on artists books’.”
 — FPG

Please do not place drinks on vit­rines or books’ is an exhib­tion cur­ated by Arnaud Des­jardin.

Focal Point Gal­lery
Southend Cent­ral Lib­rary
Vic­tor­ia Aven­ue
Southend-on-Sea
Essex SS2 6EX

April 18th to June 11th, 2011