Unbinding the Book

Words by Billie Jenkins Image courtesy of Blurb

Later this month the London Art Book Fair will bring with it the exciting exhibit Unbinding the Book, looking towards ’the future possibilities of the book as a printed object’. Nine artists have been commissioned to explore the subject with some bizarre and enchanting results, with the experience of reading spotlighted as a key issue by most.

Camille Leproust and Andres Ayerbe have created a book which blackens under heat as it is read, giving the reader only four hours to consume the text before it is lost forever. Leproust states she seeks to challenge ideas about “the value of the book as an object in itself regardless of its contents, how the very activity of reading transforms it: how the marks and traces of our engagement with the book render the mass-produced object something unique and personal”. This brought to mind a friend who collects editions of Cature in the Rye. Wanting to give more than a beautifully designed cover plucked from the shelf of Borders, I read the text for the first time in one sitting, wrote my response, wrapped, dated and posted it her way. It felt like my contribution was to invest my own experience into the object somehow.

A small chest of draws documenting J Alfred Prufrock’s material life, intricately etched with the infamous T S Eliot poem, is a beautiful addition to the collection by Koloski. Callum Copley reinvents Edgar Allen Poe as a simultaneous reader experience, in which two copies of the text sat opposite each other must be read collaboratively for the work to be fully grasped. Other artists featured include Kate Morrell, Aymee Smith, Vince Koloski, Laura Jouan, Carlin Brown, and Helen Schell who has created a large scale work on the subject of the moon which alters depending on light conditions.

The exhibition can be visited at the Whitechapel Gallery, E1 7QX, from 26th -28th September.
More about the show and its artists can be found at www.unbindingthebook.com

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