There are art books and then there is book art. As much pretension there is in that statement, there’s differentiation between the two: art books are flimsy “just the hits” images with white borders on glossy paper from the low-end of Taschen; book art reflects and enhances its content through presentation. Thus, small pencil drawings will be in a small, light book printed on paper that has a nap that could pick up carbon. Book artists give as much care to sequence, size, layout, paper texture, and binding as the photographer gave to their works inside. “Somewhere in the Fold” at the Popular Workshop and curated by COLPA publisher’s Luca Nino Antonucci illustrate the art form’s value through a huge amount of unique books.
Enumerating the nineteen publishers, artists, and craftsmen participating in “Somewhere in the Fold” would be long and boring. Little Big Man’s “Kitajima Keizo USSR 1991” is the best argument for book art in its consciousness of materials and layout, which provide view points only possible with a gatefold. Aaron Finnis’ “EQUALIZE (54 Seconds)” is a square the size of “…Fold” participant Linus Bill’s book “Tu m’as volé mon vélo” made out of magnetic audio tape adhered to two gallery walls is beautiful. You can buy Finnis’ “EQUALIZE (54 Seconds)” for $2,500 or struggle to make your own with a kit for substantially less money; it’s a good argument for nearly every piece in the show, which may appear relatively simple, but were born out of painstaking attention to detail and effort. The presence of Anzer Farm’s book-centric furniture (chairs, coffee tables, shelves, display) is in service of luxuriating in a book. It’s evident that the prints on the wall by Linus Bill or Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt would be more enjoyable in a sequence. That’s okay, it compels you to look through the book, and the prints are all more rewarding after you’ve seen their context. It’s a good trick to keep the focus on books—which deserve to be the star of the show—and not turn the gallery into a pop-up shop.
“Somewhere in the Fold” is on view at the Popular Workshop through December 24.