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Booknesses: Taking Stock of the Book Arts in South Africa

Artists’ books are brought to the fore during March 2017.

The University of Johannesburg’s Department of Visual Art, in association with Jack Ginsberg, will be presenting some exciting exhibitions, a colloquium and workshops – all centred around artists’ books. These events will be showcasing a selection of artists’ books from Jack Ginsberg’s extensive collection and adding – through the publication of comprehensive catalogue of the exhibition – to the discourse on the book arts in South Africa. Two exhibitions will showcase a diverse range of recent book arts and book-objects from international and South African artists, designers and students, encompassing traditional, experimental and digital responses to the book as an artwork. The broad book arts community in South Africa will share and discuss diverse topics relating to the book arts,sharing their skills, knowledge and experiences of making, collecting and theorising the artist’s book in South Africa. South African artists, designers and students will be introduced to international experts and keynote speakers in the field, creating meaningful global connections.

UJ Art Books
William Kentridge | Portage | 2006 | The Artists’ Press; Johannesburg © The artist | Reproduced with permission

The exhibition Booknesses: Artists Books from the Jack Ginsberg Collection is curated by David Paton, assisted by Annali Dempsey, Rosalind Cleaver and Jack Ginsberg. The exhibition, which is one of the largest and most comprehensive exhibitions of artists’ books ever to be held worldwide, features 258 historical and contemporary book objects created by both South African and international artists. The accompanying, full-colour, extensive catalogue contains essays by artists’ books authorities such as David Paton, Keith Dietrich, Pippa Skotnes, Robbin Ami Silverberg and Kim Berman in conversation with Jack Ginsberg. Edited by Robyn Sassen, the catalogue will add extensive knowledge to the book arts in South Africa. This much anticipated exhibition and catalogue showcases a small aspect of the remarkable Jack Ginsberg Collection of Artist’s Books, an internationally acknowledged and respected collection that is unique on the African continent. The exhibition takes place at the UJ Art Gallery at the University of Johannesburg Kingsway Campus from Saturday 25 March until 5 May 2017.

The second exhibition, Booknesses: South African Artists’ Books, features over 100 works and will be accompanied by an online catalogue. Curated by David Paton, Eugene Hon, Gordon Froud and Rosalind Cleaver, this exhibition takes place at the FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg Bunting Road Campus from Friday 24 March until 5 May 2017. A series of workshops, held at important spaces such as Phumani Paper and Artist Proof Studio (APS), will be held prior to the international colloquium. These pre-colloquium workshops will include the launch of the Project Space at Phumani Paper, as well as papermaking demonstrations and practical papermaking workshops held by the organisation. Stephan Erasmus will present a paper engineering and structures workshop.

UJ Art Books
Doc / Undoc. Documentado / Undocumented | Ars Shamánica Performática | 2014 | Moving Parts Press; Santa Cruz, CA, USA | ©The artists. Reproduced with permission

Also included is a visit to APS for cocktails and demonstrations on the printing and making of William Kentridge’s bookwork Triumphs & Laments. Bookbinding demonstrations and practical workshops will be held by Heléne van Aswegen of Stellenbosch University. Theses workshops take place from Tuesday 21 March to Thursday 23 March. The international colloquium, entitled Booknesses: Taking Stock of the Book Arts in South Africa, will include presentations in the form of practical demonstrations of work and papers presented by local and international book artists and those working with the book as an artwork. Papers and round-table discussions will be presented within a number of fields of the book arts, including conceiving; designing/making (from a designer/artist’s perspective); papers; screens; printing and binding (from an Associated Arts perspective); collecting; bibliography; curating and display (from a collecting and exhibitions perspective); teaching; theorising and writing (from an academic and educational perspective).

The keynote speakers include two international, leading voices in the field. Sarah Bodman is a Senior Research Fellow for Artists’ Books at the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, UK. At the CFPR, she runs projects investigating and promoting contemporary book arts. She is also Programme Leader for MA Multidisciplinary Printmaking at the Bower Campus of the UWE. Robbin Ami Silverberg is an artist and founding director of Dobbin Mill, a hand-papermaking studio, and Dobbin Books, a collaborative artist book studio in New York. Her artwork is divided between artists’ books and installations. She has a long association with the Department of Visual Art at UJ.

Claudia Cohen and Barbara Hodgson | The Temperamental Rose and Other Ways of Seeing Colour | 2007 | Heavenly Monkey Editions; Vancouver, Canada © the artists | Reproduced with permission

The international colloquium will be held at the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA), University of Johannesburg Bunting Road Campus from Friday 24 March to Sunday 26 March 2017. The colloquium will be brought to a close on the evening of Sunday 26 March with a public conversation between Jack Ginsberg and William Kentridge introduced and moderated by Professor Jane Taylor.

For more information visit Artists’ Books in South Africa


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