Time: 26 June – 12 July 2015
Location: Museum Quarter, Cascais, Portugal
Curator: Celeste Maia
“ARTIST BOOKS BY THE SEA
The approach is already promising. I cross the bridge leading to the house that holds CIBA, the Cascais International Book Art show, in Cascais, Portugal. The early morning air is golden, the calm, blue green sea is shimmering under the sun, reflecting the ocher and rose madder Casa de Santa Maria in the distance.
Downstairs there are mainly historical books kept under glass cases. I am expecting much more from CIBA; these are not the contemporary artist books I traveled so far to see.
These artist books are – without exception – magnificent works. The pieces seem to have been brought together to expand the definition of both art and the book. The artists introduce the viewer to special relationships with time, space, and the worlds, both intimate and universal, which their works contain and reveal.
The artists are from Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Holland, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, and United States. The show is harmonious, but with a wide diversity of concerns and approaches that challenges the viewer to examine his/her own experiences when viewing these magnificently realized works.
There are books ransacked, stripped of their covers, and spines, reduced to their words and reinterpreted into music spools (Morey), or fantastical weaving and lace sculpture (Gunn). There is a book that resembles an excavation, cut around ideas and images and creating new meanings and interpretations (Dettmer). There are books that resemble a shell, a flower, one celebrating life out of a terrible tragedy (Maia), and another the flight of birds (Boyd). There are two books, one with a magnificent cover (Doggett) and the other with the remains of potions (Bodman), both inquiring into the role of women throughout history. A book that resembles tarot cards (Lundahl), and a book of tea bags (Vasilunas). Papel Mojado (Prada) trenchantly comments on the violation of human rights. There is poetry and humor in the wonderful piece Temptation (Johnston). And an absolutely ingenious book design to show photographs (Aerssens). There is Saharan sand on a book cover that evokes travels into Egypt’s ancient past, combining a sense of loss and longing (Nabarra-Piomelli). A book that takes you into a path of dreaming with the moon shining over a landscape (Mauriello). A book of ancient Japan curled and laced (Rieke), and a book of an ancestor in an intriguing form creating its own past from fragments of reality (Bailey).
Some works stand out magnificently like Mandy Gunn’s Ways of Seeing, the Unconcise Oxford Dictionary, deconstructed and woven into sculpture. Barbara Johnston’s Temptation winks at the viewer in the far end. Brian Dettmer’s Webster Withdrawn turns the dictionary into a sculpture with multiple references. Barbara Mauriello’s Moon Over the Mountain conveys a Zen-like serenity that hides its complexity. Sue Doggett’s book, Spiritualists and Suffragettes, with its exquisite cover is a container and trigger of memory. Sarah Bodman’s, La Voisin, leaves the viewer wishing to sift through the contents, reading the secret recipes.
In the other room, an intimate chapel, Connie Michele Morey’s music spools of words, Cosmosica, are intriguing and cry to be played with. Elina Lundahl’s mysterious, This Too Shall Pass, begs for closer examination. Celeste Maia’s painted waves in Resistance transmit powerful stories of triumph over tragedy. Julie Chen’s cerebral wordplay in Cat’s Cradle also reflects mastery with paper.