KALEID 2016 Oslo

Artists’ Book Seminar

On Thursday 12th May, KALEID editions facilitated a half day seminar for students, staff and visitors at Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo.

Musings on Dispersion

What do we know? Who are we as artists to commandeer the dispersion of our art? To be sitting here today assimilating the distributor, the publicist, the documenter, the critic, the curator, the gallerist, the facilitator and the moderator? Does our DIY strategy reflect a “make do and mend” on a shoestring budget, a transition towards an holistic approach to art production or a desire to get up close and personal with our audience?

Artists who utilise publishing as a process of production are engaging in a collective experience. The current resurgence of interest in artists’ books, which arguably began as a resistance to the dematerialization of “content” and the rapid transition to monitor viewing or digital “screenship”, is also art as commodified publicity i.e. A medium of publicness or publicity, commodified with a price per unit.

Market mechanisms of circulation, distribution, and dissemination become a crucial part of the work, distinguishing such a practice from the liberal-bourgeois model of production, which operates under the notion that cultural doings somehow take place above the marketplace. No matter if the work is mass-produced or hand-made as a limited edition, each reader can experience the artist’s work in its primary state, in the original, owing to the fact that it is conceived as a book.

Public art has shifted from ‘monumental art’ in a specific location to a publicness based on the dissemination within a specific time frame. The collective experience is now based on simultaneous private experiences, distributed across the field of media culture, knitted together by ongoing debate, publicity, promotion, and discussion. Publicness today has as much to do with sites of production and reproduction as it does with any physical location. 

Publishing as an artistic practice focuses on the process of publicity; the publicness of the medium, the ‘field of distribution’ and the aftermath is its very condition. The potential of a political public sphere opens a path for intersubjective communication and discourse. The expansion of artists’ activities into new media and the public’s need for information about art have all contributed to the exponential growth in art book fairs; facilitating sales, networking, peer-review and discourse.

It is at this juncture in time that three artists working in the field of publishing were invited as guest speakers chaired by Victoria Browne, Director of KALEID editions and Associate Professor at KHiO – to present and discuss what we think we know by disseminating firsthand experience about the medium, the material and distribution of artists’ books.

Sigrid Calon
Based in Tilberg, the Netherlands, Calon’s signatory use of embroidery software is part of her ongoing exploration into compositional abstract patterns, ranging from book publications, fashion accessories and site-specific installations.

Patrizia Meinert
Book -binder, artist and designer based in Leipzig, Germany. Meinert is part of the research network on The book as expanded space of art and communication and currently a post-graduate student in Book Arts at the University of Art and Design Burg Giebichenstein Halle.

Jurgen Maelfeyt
Co-Director of APE (Art Paper Editions) based in Ghent, Belgium. Maelfeyt’s publishing practice includes facilitating the Ghent Art Book Fair and a rolling programme of artist’s book exhibitions, workshops and lectures at his gallery RIOT.


Further reading

Dispersion by Seth Price, 2002
Publishing as Artistic Practice Ed. Annette Gilbert, 2016
Unshelfmarked, reconceiving the artist’s book by Michael Hampton, 2015
Booktrek by Clive Phillpot, 2013

KALEID 2016 Oslo was funded by KHIO’s artistic development and research programme.