Installation of Artists' Books

I’m enjoying the Spring season with camera in hand. Hiking at the top of Avimor’s foothills—the view is amazing. Here is a shot of my house, can you see it? Which one! The one at the end of the street, on the left.

© 2016 Louise Levergneux

© 2016 Louise Levergneux

Spring is a time for new ideas and they are abound. These new ideas are a curse, sleeping is no longer a restful time to rejuvenate but a time to reflect—go wild, completely wild. Thoughts never stop and my mind jumps from one thought to another. I create whole artists’ books that keep me occupied throughout the night. These incessant thoughts that come and go, giving me no rest—ideas, ideas and more ideas! The more I write, the more I research, the more I get ideas!

With life and my activities, I’m getting behind in my blog posts. I finish a post and the next thing I know I need another for the week ahead. The great news is in my search I may have found the biggest artists’ book installations which I’m sure you will love.


Artist Nicole Pietrantoni who works and lives in Walla Walla, Washington, explores the complex relationship between human beings and nature via installations, artists’ books, and works on paper. 

I’m glad to see that Nicole uses different methods for her finished product that lead to an exciting visual feast. Her works combine digital and traditional printmaking techniques. Nicole says this of her work.

Rather than a fixed site or a single image, I seek to engage nature as an accumulation of processes, perceptions, and narratives—a dynamic and shifting site open for interpretation

Nicole is guided in her research by the following questions:

What stories shape my interaction with and understanding of landscape and nature?
How have cultural and historical scripts, media, and technology disciplined me?
How does a lineage of art history influence a particular way of picturing and making images?
And finally, what stories do I contribute in my work as an artist to this discourse?

I enjoy her thoughts on the printing process of this period of time:

To be an artist working with printmedia today is to have a particular orientation towards replication, distribution, and representation. As printed matter is an increasingly ubiquitous part of our visual culture, printmaking as a fine art continues to expand and encompass a broadening definition. These complexities demand I question how I see, picture, and frame the world around me.

Working out of a long lineage of artists interested in the landscape, in this body of work, Nicole presents to us Implications. This installation is 9 feet x 33 feet with 30 inkjet printed accordion books folded and bound that expand to create a panoramic image of icebergs in Iceland.

© 2013 Nicole Pietrantoni, Implications

© 2013 Nicole Pietrantoni, Implications

The text in the books simultaneously reads as both a poem (Risk[,] Event[,] Disaster) written by Devon Wootten and an official report on climate change, Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. The installation aims to draw attention to the means of making such images by enlarging halftone dots and disrupting the image through folds, cuts, and ruptures. Referencing 19th-century panoramas and the Romantic painting tradition, this work nods to a period when the relationship of humans to the landscape was rapidly transformed.

Similarly, today’s changing landscape demands that I examine the tension between my enjoyment of beautiful, idealized landscapes and an awareness of their ecological complexity.
© 2013 Nicole Pietrantoni, Implications, printed on Awagami Inbe Thin

© 2013 Nicole Pietrantoni, Implications, printed on Awagami Inbe Thin

Precipitous is a series of five handbound accordion books that expand to create a life-sized panoramic image of a rising sea. Precipitous is 14 feet x 6 feet and each book has 22 pages.

© 2014 Nicole Pietrantoni, Precipitous, inkjet on Awagami Inbe Thick

© 2014 Nicole Pietrantoni, Precipitous, inkjet on Awagami Inbe Thick

With a specific interest in printmaking’s historic relationship to representation, in this work Nicole gives a sign that humans play an active role in constructing and idealizing landscape. Pushing against the notion that nature is/was pristine, wild, or untouched, Precipitous gestures to a “post-natural” relationship to landscape. Nature can no longer be seen as something set apart from humans, but is instead something we fundamentally alter and continue to shape.

As books, the works suggest the authority of the encyclopedic approach in the cataloguing of natural specimens. As an installation, they dismantle sublime images through cuts, folds, and halftone dots. The overlaid poems by Devon Wootten are appropriations from reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The text draws on the language of the report, Climate Change and Water.

© 2014 Nicole Pietrantoni, Precipitous

© 2014 Nicole Pietrantoni, Precipitous

Nicole's new work is entitled Havened, 84 inches x 84 inches x 5 inches with 9 accordion books.

© 2015 Nicole Pietrantoni, Havened

© 2015 Nicole Pietrantoni, Havened

© 2015 Nicole Pietrantoni, Havened

© 2015 Nicole Pietrantoni, Havened

© 2015 Nicole Pietrantoni, Havened

© 2015 Nicole Pietrantoni, Havened


What an Aha! moment viewing Nicole’s installations?

How do you explore your relationship with nature?

 

Another Large Book

 

Lots of time this week was spent trying to integrate my website server with MailChimp (an email marketing service) with no luck. I have decided that spending so much time on a company that only cares for paying customers is not a good use of my time. My preference is to communicate with artists and create my books. So I have had to resort to the old fashion way of announcing my new blog posts.

Now to better news, I’m happy to announce the winners for subscribing to my blog posts. The first subscriber Peggy Seeger (brave soul) is the first winner of a volume of City Shields, the 15th subscribers after are: Ka Mahina, Kerry McAleer-Keeler, and Monique momo Moore-Racine. The numbers tell me I’m close to another volume give away, so please subscribe.


As an artist my ideas come from my surroundings. Subjects are numerous and I’m captivated by the themes that ignite the beginning of an artists’ book. How do you choose your themes? Where do your find your ideas?

I took 10 years to create a series of nine artists’ books entitled Equinox—books on the mundane of daily activities. I started in the spring of 1998. The first book of the series began after the death of my father. This experience reminded me of missed moments. Each book is not large per-say (9in x 11in x 4in deep) (23cm x 28cm x 10cm deep) but the years it took to finish these volumes were too many. 

© 1998-2007 Louise Levergneux, Equinox

© 1998-2007 Louise Levergneux, Equinox

Nowadays, no matter what project I begin, my husband always teases me, “Think small!”


Continuing on this fascinating journey of large format artists’ books, a book that caught my attention was Elizabeth McKee’s book Assault of Angels. I was curious about the inspiration behind the book since I had as you know just gone through a major move last summer! 

Artists’ books no matter their size, they reflect personal and heartwarming ideas. Elizabeth inspired by a poem and a decision to move her home across the world. From these experiences Elizabeth created Assault of Angels, a 22in by 3 in by 10in (56cm x 94cm x 25cm) deep accordion book that weighs about 70 lbs (1.9 kg) without the box. When opened Assault of Angels is 33ft (10m) long. The longest opened book I have seen yet!

Elizabeth clarifies... « In the late 80s around the time when my husband talked about moving us from Ottawa to Bangladesh. I found a poem in The Faber Book of Modern Verse edited by Michael Roberts, an English poet who died in 1948 of leukemia.

I remember sitting in our living room in Ottawa telling a visitor I was “very comfortable here.” So the line in the verse “A time comes when the house is comfortable and narrow” resonated with me. I wanted to paint angels as a mighty force signaling the fantastic size and power of the unknown, not creatures that sit gently on one’s shoulder. The images needed to break out of the pages. I started with twenty (22in x 30in) (56cm x 76cm) sheets of St-Armand cotton paper which I thought might eventually be framed and hung together. The folly of that idea dawned and the Japanese Screen Hinge binding saved the day. »

© 2010 Elizabeth McKee, Assault of Angels

© 2010 Elizabeth McKee, Assault of Angels

© 2010 Elizabeth McKee, Assault of Angels, acrylic paint and gesso on handmade paper mounted on foam core board which is backed with Ugandan bark cloth

© 2010 Elizabeth McKee, Assault of Angels, acrylic paint and gesso on handmade paper mounted on foam core board which is backed with Ugandan bark cloth

© 2010 Elizabeth McKee, Assault of Angels

© 2010 Elizabeth McKee, Assault of Angels

© 2010 Elizabeth McKee, Assault of Angels

© 2010 Elizabeth McKee, Assault of Angels

It took 10 years and four moves for Elizabeth to publish Assault of Angels.

What moves you to create?


Nostalgia

Spring makes me nostalgic, it’s a time to renew, a time to clear our spaces.

When I de-clutter my surroundings after the winter months my thoughts meander towards the past and its meaning.

I’ve been creating artists’ books since 1996. I was doing installations at the time and was not sure this was the direction I wanted to continue.

During the previous year my husband Michael Sutton published his own book Documents Management for the Enterprise, Principles, Techniques, and Applications, best-seller till the late 90’s. In the early part of that spring we travelled back to his hometown, and the trip brought many ideas and creativity. I shot lots of photographs of Michael contemplating his childhood. 

On our arrival back home, I read Michael’s book and appropriated groups of words or sentences from each chapter. These sentences taken out of context added a depth of emotions to the photographs I had taken. After months of talks on childhood and the past, I created my last installation on the theme of memories.

My installation was made of one book, a large book—My Memories of My Memories—a 22-inches by 30-inches closed artists’ book. The one-of-a-kind brings adults to perceive themselves as tiny in front of its size and resembles a family photo album. It needed to be big and awkward!  The array of personal family images helped trigger people’s memories of childhood with each turn of a page. 

Each page is a blend of my photographs, snapshots from a family album and a facsimile of the pages of Michael’s published monograph. Each chapter title of Michael’s book becomes each page of my book. The intermixed images simulate a bizarre sense of déja-vu.

This recollection brings me to re-introduce my artists’ book My Memories of My Memories. This is where my world of artists’ books began. I can’t remember the reason behind the long title!! But notice Michael’s book title!

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories, Chapter 3

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories, Chapter 3

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories, Chapter 4

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories, Chapter 4

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories, Chapter 5

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories, Chapter 5

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories, Chapter 9

© 1999 Louise Levergneux, My Memories of My Memories, Chapter 9

Later, I created a smaller version of My Memories Of My Memories in an edition of 10. This version is 4.5 by 3.125 inches. One copy remains in my collection copy 1/10. The smaller version brings a childhood memory of keeping small treasures in our pockets and keeping them for rainy days.

The Library & Archives Canada/Bibliothèque et Archives Canada in Gatineau, Québec purchased the large format one-of-a-kind in 2007. 


During this wistful affection for the past, I researched large format books and found the work of Christopher Kardambikis.

His 21-inches by 34-inches book Mundus Subterraneus, a hand-bound accordion extends to 28-feet unfolded. That’s BIG!

© 2012 Christopher Kardambikis, Mundus Subterraneus

© 2012 Christopher Kardambikis, Mundus Subterraneus

© 2012 Christopher Kardambikis, Mundus Subterraneus. Multiple digital print, silkscreen, india ink, and graphite on paper. Silkscreen on bookcloth.

© 2012 Christopher Kardambikis, Mundus Subterraneus. Multiple digital print, silkscreen, india ink, and graphite on paper. Silkscreen on bookcloth.

© 2012 Christopher Kardambikis, Mundus Subterraneus

© 2012 Christopher Kardambikis, Mundus Subterraneus

In the lineage of Kircher’s treatise, Mundus Subterraneus explores an absurd mythology for the future, pulling from the history of book production itself as well as science fiction, myth and cosmology. The work functions as an intimate atlas of artistic process. Reminiscent of Kircher’s play on the doubling of “mundus,” the visual information of Kardambikis’ book can be considered as both a series of two-page spreads or a 28-feet long image. In either case, one’s view is limited to a fragment or image of a larger schema. Like an atlas, an entire area is not viewed at once but rather is taken in as fractions of a whole. The book presents the viewer with sign systems of both the fantastic and the personal in an illustration that requires durational engagement. 

The book tackles the measuring of space and how we traverse place and was exhibited at the University of California in San Diego. Christopher set up a series of prints cut from paper and adhered to the wall of the gallery called Squaring a Circle - forming an image of the horizon as scene from the nearby desert. 

Mundus Subterraneus, the book, functioned like a cross section. If the earth formed a sphere that could be contained in the space of the gallery then the book was a core sample - a sliver of information down the centre of the sphere, flattened, condensed, and formed into an atlas. An atlas of the space, of the show, and of my practice all existing but never seen in its entirety all at once.

Such a wonderful book, I would have loved to see this exhibition in person. 


I love big books and the philosophy behind them. Remind me though never make a big one again!