Bookish Art: The Odd Volumes Exhibit (with pictures!)

January 24, 2015

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I visited our local art museum to see their exhibit called "Odd Volumes: Book Art from the Allan Chasanoff Collection." Fully curated by students, the display was dedicated to art that highlighted the multi-faceted relationships that humans have with books, particularly as our reading becomes increasingly digital.
"The act of reading books is an inherently sensory process ... We flip through pages, leaving physical reminders of our progress. Dog-eared corners and cracked spines serve as evidence of our interaction with the content. Yet in an era dominated by digital technology, the role of the physical book is in flux. Words are no longer bound to the page but are weightless, accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Thus when content does appear in book form, this relationship is increasingly meaningful."
A prominent thread tying many of the pieces together was the "decay" of books, both literally (burned, torn, or otherwise deteriorating books abounded) and metaphorically (many of the books were blank or other illegible).

This book is actually covered in live fungi.
Worn-down tomes.
Book  chasm.
According to the curators, this might encourage one to think about books as more than vessels for communicating the written word.
"In an age of Kindles and iPads, the 'wordless' books in this exhibition could be read as examples of the book's impending end. Yet they may instead offer other modes of knowledge. Relieved of their original function, they emphasize construction and compel the viewer to consider the book beyond its content." 
These three below were some of my other favorite pieces. (Sorry if the formatting's wonky!)

I like how this one captures how vividly books can "come alive."
Really intricate paper-cutting.

This mat has the entire text of Moby-Dick on it. Really.

If you want to see more of the pieces and read more about the artists themselves, check out the exhibit website here!

Which of these is your favorite? Have you guys ever seen any cool book art? Happy Saturday!

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  1. That's a fantastic exhibition, thank you so much for sharing it. The book with the fungi turned my stomach but I love the The Sorcerer’s Apprentice one. I really enjoy looking at book art but so far it has all been online and I have never seen any in real life (yet!).

    1. The fungi book is even more gross in person, I can assure you. ;) And I think the Sorcerer's Apprentice is my favorite, too! It's just makes its point so clearly and beautifully.

      Hope you can get to some book art IRL soon!

  2. What a cool exhibit. I'd love to see something like this in person.

    1. Yes, it was neat! I almost completely missed that it was happening, too. That's luck for you. :)