los-angeles

“California Bookworks: The Last Five Years”

Otis Art Institute Of Parsons School Of Design

There were over 230 artists’ books in “California Bookworks: The Last Five Years,” curated by critic and former Otis librarian Joan Hugo. In general, the books were of four types: fine-press publications, folios of prints, sculptures that abstract and extend the book structure, and handmade artifacts that cling to a craft esthetic. In this latter category, the rhetoric of materials was deafening. Fabricated from lace, scroll paper, tree bark, steel, and even other books, many of these book works were exemplars of what Frances Butler, who contributed to the catalogue, calls “craft literacy.” Supposedly, the kinesthetic reading experiences bound up in these books are not subject to commodification by the art market. Nonsense. An obsessively crafted book is an especially precious commodity. It is subject to either private ownership or institutionalization, alternate terms for the art market.

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