Curator Mercedes Vicente with viewers and the books Tone Johansen viewing the books
About the exhibition
There is a compelling attraction for many artists to gather their sketches and words into a book. Whether to keep a diary, to introduce narration or to play with animation as in the case of flipping books, the book has been a common and popular medium among artists. And for the curator, artists' books present the challenge of searching for display strategies to show them in the context of a gallery, while books seem to belong in libraries and are experienced at best in the intimacy of a reading room. I have been eager to find ways of exhibiting artists books that, while conscious of their preservation, would not preclude the desire of holding the book in your lap, allowing your fingers feel the paper and passing the pages over at your own pace.
Kostas Kiritsis, a Greek artist raised in Poland, engages in a very personal journey that invokes his interest in Eastern cultures and travels, and takes the form of photographic diaries. Exemplary of his work is the book of his series "Beyond Horizon," a photographic report of his trip to Mongolia.
Yet Kostas deals only with the realm of images. His noncompliance with the written world is manifested in his decision to once paint white every page of every book he had collected over the years. This Olympian gesture, according to the artist, aimed to achieve a state of tabula rasa, proved to be both utopic and unattainable, since the books turned white only to be filled again with photographs of his trips, clippings of news and other memorabilia. As a result, knowledge is replaced by experience, the written by the visual, and the objective by the personal. His is as much a conceptual move as it is a formal one. The white books are beautiful objects, like canvases, and displayed together in his studio in Poland become installations which Kostas documented in photographs that they themselves turned into books.
- Mercedes Vicente, Curator
Related event: September 27, 2003 - Mercedes Vicente Curator's Talk