BOUNDLESS OBJECTS a g ro u p e x h i b i t i o n o f a r t i s t s â€™ b o o k s in association with
BOUNDLESS OBJECTS A group exhibition inspired by the (un)making of the book form. Boundless Objects comprises of artworks that are inspired by the book form, which are commonly referred to as artists’ books or bookworks. Art historian Stephen Bury defines the artist’s book as “a book or book-like object intended to be a work of art in itself, and over the appearance of which an artist has had a high degree of control.” He further notes that “artists, seeing this definition as yet another medium to explore, constantly challenge it, pushing the book format in unexpected directions.” The specific focus of this exhibition is on the materiality of the book as object. The participating artists explored the possibilities of the craft of bookmaking as an art medium. The basic techniques and materials of constructing a book are investigated, explored, questioned and replaced by alternatives. Manual book production typically includes folding paper, waxing thread, sewing, glueing, covering and printing (images and text), amongst others. In this show these techniques are either explored or subverted to present some new possibilities of what the book form can become. The book as object is a container of information, sharing stories, recording knowledge and preserving history. It is a container to externalise our inner thoughts or our day to day interactions, and in some cases a it is used to memorialise the visits of strangers or to document financial exchanges. As technology has progressed, many of these functions have been replaced by newer platforms such as the computer and smartphones. However, it is the tactile form, textures and even the smell of a book that creates a different experience when mediating the information contained therein. The experience of reading an old, well traveled book can not necessarily be recreated in the format of a digital pdf file or e-book. This conception of the book can be explored even further as artists unpack the book structure and assess each aspect and its functions. For example, would a book still convey information if it did not have text printed on the pages? After all, it is said that an image is worth a thousand words, and it doesn’t require much imagination to see the book form itself as an image. We can then also wonder if the paper itself, rather than the printed content can communicate certain ideas or feelings.
Travelling down this conceptual avenue we can discover what would happen if we replace the paper with something else. Can the sewing pattern become more than just a hidden functional apparatus that keeps the pages together? What will happen if we remove the functionality of the book completely and reimagine its structure as whole? These are some of the questions that the works in this show pose to the viewer. It is interesting to note that even though the point of departure was from the book as material object, the outcomes vary tremendously in both form and medium. Some artists used the familiar book form but replaced it with alternative constituent materials such as perspex. Others in turn explored less familiar book format, veering from the traditional codex, the book shape most popularly used that consists of pages sewn together through the central fold. Examples of this exploration of alternative formats are scrolls, concertina books and flag-books. Finally, some of the works on display are more reminiscent of typical wall-mounted artforms, such as painting and drawings, but employ materials typically used in book construction. Being a technician, I attain tremendous enjoyment from being able to produce a book faithful to the age old traditions of bookbinding and to engineer a technically well functioning and recognisable book. Nevertheless, even though it is imperative to respect these traditions, we should never stagnate and should therefore allow ourselves to explore unique permutations - even if they fail in the technical sense. It is in these unpredictable experimental moments that we often find a sense of wonder to look at the world anew. It is this sense of curiosity that serves as the seed for this show.
HELÉNE VAN ASWEGEN is an artist’s book binder, specialising in making book related artworks for practicing artists. She collaborates with artists and publishers to conceptualise, print and bind specialised limited editioned bookworks. These collector’s items are known as artist’s books and fall under the genre Book Arts. She also teaches book design, illustration, book arts and printmaking at the Visual Arts Department, Stellenbosch University and other institutions around the country. In 2011 Heléne obtained her Master’s degree in Illustration from Stellenbosch University after completing her BA in Visual Arts at the same institution. Of the 23 artist’s books she produced with various artists many have been acquired by notable collections namely the New York Public Library; Smithsonian African Art Collection (Smithsonian Institute); Yale University; Jack Ginsberg Collection; South African Library of Congress and Wits University Art Museum (WAM). CHRISTINE DIXIE is a Senior lecturer in the Fine Art Department at Rhodes University. A South African artist whose training in printmaking has extended into installation, her work is predominantly focussed on two interlinked concerns, the visual strategies deployed in frontier landscape representation and the narratives used in constructing images of gender. In much of her work a deceptively calm surface is disrupted by an undercurrent, a counter-narrative that threatens to disrupt a tenuous vision of logic and stability. Dixie is represented in national and international collections including The New York Public Library, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, The Johannesburg Art Museum and the Isiko National Art Museum. The installation The Binding, 2010, which examines the relationship between sacrifice and male identity, was acquired by the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Her latest multi-media installation, To Be King is a post-colonial interpretation of Las Meninas. BEVAN DE WET (b.1985) is an artist and printmaker based in Johannesburg, South Africa. De Wet works primarily with paper, exploring etching, relief printing, papermaking, drawing and paper folding techniques. He has exhibited extensively, both locally and internationally, including Drawing on Entropy (solo, Hazard Gallery, 2018), New Forms: A Study of Broken Parallels (solo, Candice Berman Gallery, 2017), Origins & Trajectories, Paris (2016); International Printmaking Alliance Exhibition, China (2016-17); Vestige (solo, NIROX Projects, 2014). The artist’s work is held in a number of
private and public collections including The Wits Art Museum, Nirox Foundation, the South African Embassy in Washington DC, and the Ahmanson Foundation in Los Angeles. In 2012, de Wet was awarded a fellowship from the Ampersand Foundation (New York 2013) and also received the Thami Mnyele Art on Paper Merit Award. In 2014, he was an ABSA L’Atelier Merit Award Winner with the Sylt Foundation, granting him a 2-month residency on the Island of Sylt (Germany 2015). He received an ImpACT Award for Visual Art from the Arts and Culture Trust (2014). In 2017, de Wet travelled to Ireland for the Cill Rialaig Artists Residency. De Wet runs his own print studio in the Johannesburg CBD, where he is currently working towards new solo projects for 2018. EMMA WILLEMSE is a conceptual artist, lecturer and curator living and working in Riebeek Kasteel in the Western Cape of South Africa. Her art-making practice is concerned with the archaeology of psychological trauma and is informed by her own experiences of displacement. Her inquiry in this field has led to a study that investigates the interlinking constructs of place, memory and identity. Willemse’s artworks are technically varied and include sculptural installations, printmaking, photographic processes, painting and drawing. In her artist books she combines several of the above-mentioned techniques. Emma holds a Masters in Visual Art from the University of South Africa and qualifications in Psychology and Librarianship. Her works have been included in, amongst others, the Nando’s Collection, the Eindhoven Collection, The SA Embassy in Beijing, China; and the Art Bank in Johannesburg. http://www.emmawillemse.co.za/ JESSICA STAPLE. A draughtsman and printmaker, Jessica Staple’s practice is significantly informed by the materials, methodologies and histories of the disciplines in which she works. Together with these ‘stories’, she explores various local histories and underworld mythologies and folktales, often characterised by themes of creation and transformation. Jessica lives in Port Elizabeth. She graduated with an MA VA (cum laude) and BA English Studies Major from Stellenbosch University Visual Arts Department, where she also worked as the printmaking technician, facilitated public drawing classes and hosted workshops in collaboration with the SU Museum’s ‘Access to Visual Arts
Programme’. Jessica is currently working as an ad hoc lecturer at the Nelson Mandela University, where she was invited to participate in the ‘AIR’ residency programme earlier this year. Since 2016, she has co-directed Black Ink. Collective, a collective of printmakers, educators and artists based in South Africa. KEITH DIETRICH obtained his BA degree in Design at Stellenbosch University in 1974 and a two-year diploma in painting at the National Institute for Fine Arts in Antwerpen, Belgium in 1978. He obtained both his MA in Fine Arts (cum laude) (1983) and D Litt et Phil in Art History (1993) at the University of South Africa, (Unisa). He lectured at the University of Pretoria, Unisa and Stellenbosch University where he was Head of the Department for eight years. He was also Director of the Centre for Comic, Illustrative and Book Arts at Stellenbosch University where he is currently Professor Emeritus. He has published six artist’s books and collaborated with Heléne van Aswegen on one bookwork. In addition, he co-edited 1 book and has contributed chapters in five books. He has participated in over 30 community interaction projects in southern Africa and curated 13 exhibitions. He held 29 Solo/Duo exhibitions in South Africa and has participated in over 60 group exhibitions and biennials in Belgium, Botswana, Chile, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Namibia, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA. His work is represented in 37 corporate and public collections in South Africa, the USA, Germany and the UK. He has been the recipient of 27 awards, grants and scholarships for his creative and academic work. NEIL LE ROUX was born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1985. He graduated from Stellenbosch University with a BA Visual Arts degree in 2008 and obtained his MA Visual Arts in 2014 with distinction from the same University. After being nominated for the Spier Contemporary Art Competition in 2010, his drawings were included in the seminal Draw Links group exhibition at Gallery AOP, Johannesburg in October 2010. In case of emergence (follow the bifurcation) (2014) followed on Self-organized systems, his first solo exhibition at Gallery AOP in 2012. His artworks are included in various private and public collections, such as the South African Reserve Bank collection and Wits Art Museum.
DAVID PATON is an artist and academic with 30 years’ experience, 20 of which have been at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). In 2000 he completed a Masters degree focusing on the artist’s book, entitled; “South African Artists’ Books and Book-objects Since 1960”. He has also curated exhibitions, delivered lectures and papers and published in academic journals on the subject of the artist’s book and its digital interface. He was head of the Department of Visual Art (2004 - 2009) during which time he was a member of Senate and sat on the Advisory Committee of the Department of Fine & Applied Arts, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). Paton currently lectures Drawing and Studio Practice at undergraduate level and supervises postgraduate Masters students in the department, four of whom have received the prestigious Chancellor’s Medal for Meritorious Postgraduate Research. He has received two university awards for excellence in teaching and the Ampersand Foundation Fellowship for travel and work in New York in 1999 and again in 2017 for his work on the Booknesses Project consisting of exhibitions, colloquium and workshops on the book arts. Whilst in New Youk he presented a lecture at the Center for Book Arts on the Bookness Project. Paton has been external examiner to senior graduate-course students as well as postgraduate student dissertations and exhibitions at the University of Pretoria, Wits University, DUT, University of Stellenbosch, Rhodes University and UCT. He has been a judge of the Absa L’Atelier Art Competition and a peer reviewer for NRF Rated Researcher applications as well as for the accredited journal de Arte. He is also the father of two sons. IAN MARLEY is the Academic Head of Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography. He is also a practicing artist and has had several solo exhibitions and has taken part in-group exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Ian has also produced a number of artist books and contributed to many print exchanges. He obtained the following qualifications at the Vaal University of Technology N. Dip Fine Art, NH. Dip Fine Art, M. Tech Degree Fine Art as well as a PhD in History of Art from North-West University.
David Paton Speaking in Tongues: Speaking Digitally | Digitally Speaking The work is a small leporello (accordion or concertina-fold) book with 162 pages of digitally-printed images divided into two chapters that are printed on each side of the paper. The work was printed with Epson UltraChrome inks on Innova Smooth Cotton High White 220gsm paper. Typeset and hand letterpressed in Gill. Dimensions: 152mm high x 110mm wide (closed), various dimensions possible (open). Accompanied by a single channel video on a flash drive, inserted in the base of the box and intended for projection when the book is on display. The video interrogates issues of time and duration in delivering the content between book-form and digital video-form. The final edition is housed in a box with magnetic gate-fold and letterpressed title and artist’s name blind embossed onto the right hand gatefold. The book was shown at the Booknesses exhibition as part of the wider Booknesses project at the University of Johannesburg’s FADA Gallery from 24 March to 5 May. The book was included on two related international exhibitions, curated by Dr. Stella Bolaki and Egidija Čiricaitė. The first show, by national (UK) and international artists responded to themes of medicine and wellbeing in support of a body of artists’ books by Maine book artist Martha A. Hall. Prescriptions was a large project support by the University of New England USA, the University of Kent, UK and the Wellcome Trust and consisted of a symposium, exhibition and set of workshops. Two of the edition of six have been purchased for collections: The Templeton Library collection of artists’ books, University of Kent, UK as well as the Jack Ginsberg Collection of artists’ books, Johannesburg South Africa, soon to be part of the collection of artists’ books Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa. The structural content of the book is described as follows: The first chapter, Speaking Digitally, comprises an animated series of my youngest son Liam’s subtly moving hands while gaming online. The second chapter, Digitally Speaking, is an animated series of my mother Shirley’s dynamically moving hands while conducting a conversation
with the artist. The book is designed for multiple openings and multiple ways of negotiating the narrative: it can be paged through, page by page, or it can be opened in such a way as to allow different parts of the narrative or even the book’s front and back to be viewed simultaneously - very unbook-like. The accordion-fold structure hints at being a possible flipbook, given its small size, facilitating the ability of the pages to be flipped so as to pass like the video which accompanies the book and which can be projected ahead of it. Its structure, however, hinders the successful flipping of the pages. Being difficult to handle, it refuses to keep a stable form - a book with a mind of its own is an idea that appeals to me. The many still drawings of my son’s hands for the animation section of the video are locked onto double-page spreads and given a duration which they cannot receive in the video. Likewise, the longer contemplative sections of the video that depict my mother’s hands, are reduced to a manageable size which can be haptically and quickly manipulated: a book of active hands held in the hands and manipulated at another pace seemed like an interesting idea. By avoiding a spine, the hands pass across the gutter without visual and structural interruption. The idea of the passing of time vs. psychological duration is, of course, Henri Bergson’s. My bookwork’s thematic content is stated as follows: The book explores the passing of time, aging and the complexities of communication through the depiction of, on one side of the leporello format, my young son’s subtly moving hands whilst playing an online game (Digitally Speaking) and, on the other, my aged mother’s remarkably expressive hands whilst recounting stories from her youth (Speaking Digitally). The book, with accompanying video, explores the temporal and special gap between youth and old age, the stories which exist in between and the skin as an index of time, aging and memory.
Speaking in Tongues: Speaking Digitally | Digitally Speaking (2015), Openspine Laparello book , 152mm high x 110mm wide (closed). Edition of 6.
Ian Marley fin. This book entitled â€œfin.â€? consists of 14 laser-engraved landscape fragments encased in perspex and stitched together to form transparent pages. This laser technology literary burns and engraves images of the landscape until only fragments of the delicate cotton Fabriano paper remain. These burnt fragments are layered between perspex as if remnants of a historically significant archival document. Conceptually the book is characterised by a fascination with the landscape as a fragile and malleable construct in the hands of man. The work depicts the landscape as overworked, processed, exhausted, mined and exploited by human activities, a landscape toyed with until its scars assume the nature of traces of human aggression. The process of bruising transforms and mutates the landscape so that it is silenced and the wasteland of destruction remains. As one pages thought the book one moves deeper and deeper into the landscape of destruction until only silence and emptiness are left.
fin. (2010), Paper, perspex and cotton, 170 mm x 221 mm. Edition: unique.
Christine Dixie The Santiago Cross The History of Art Volume I-IV The History of Art Volume I-IV mimics the Western narrative of the History of Art. Using the traditional idea of a Volume which encompasses a particular historical perspective, these ‘books’ use a combination of traditional and contemporary materials which are intended to destabilize the familiar narrative. The viewer’s complicity in this history is enacted as he/she catches glimpses of him/herself in a mirror. Vol I: The Window as World In his treatise on painting, the 15th century architect, sculptor, painter, and theorist Leon Battista Alberti described painting as the construction of an image that resembles a window. His simile of the window emphasized the illusionistic representation of a three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional surface, in effect denying the material surface of the canvas. In this configuration, the painting as a window becomes a transparent surface through which the viewer can glimpse an ordered, one-point linear perspective of the world. Vol II: The Mirror as Phase During the Renaissance artists attempted to mirror ‘nature’ – there was a belief in the notion of a universal truth and a transcendental ideal that art should attempt to reflect. This belief system could be considered a ‘phase’ in the narrative of western art. The other phase I refer to here is the French psychoanalyst Jacque Lacan’s mirror phase in which the infant, at around 6 months recognizes herself as the “I” in the mirror and irrevocably enters the realm of the linguistic.
Vol III: The Canvas as Object In the mid to late sixties under the label minimalist art, artists started to emphasize the canvas as an autonomous object possessing an internal coherence. Art theorists claimed that these ‘objects’ are not like other objects because they are produced in a particular ‘medium’ such as paint.
Vol IV: The Matrix as Disorder The matrix is defined as ‘an enclosure within which something originates or develops (from the Latin for womb). The systems that make up the matrix of the narrative of The History of Art have come under contest from feminist, postcolonial and queer theory. The ‘womb’ of the matrix is threatened by disorder, spilling over into more complex terrain to include gendered, raced and classed ‘readings’ of the History of Art.
The Santiago Cross The History of Art Volume I-IV (2018), Mixed media, 298 mm x 220 mm x 43mm. Four volumes in an edition of 5.
Emma Willemse Eight ways to animate loss “…if loss is known only by what remains of it, then the politics and ethics of mourning lie in the interpretation of what remains – how remains are produced and animated, how they are read and sustained.” (End, DL & Kazanjian, D (eds) 2003:ix)
These books are part of a bigger series of 101 hand-made artist books, called ‘101 ways to long for a home’. This collection of books was conceived as an imaginary manual and archival tool to record and re-imagine ways to process the loss of a home. The books are technically varied, including images produced by drawing, print-making and collage, yet the collection is unified by the covers: each constructed from inverted discarded parquet floor blocks. In the books on display the parquet blocks constitute an even bigger part of the body of the books: the pages themselves are constructed from the wooden blocks. These have been sawn in half lengthwise so that the pages are thinner than the covers. The use of the flag-book construction method allows for a dynamic display of movement when the pages of the books are opened and closed, followed by an expressive sound as the interlinking blocks are dispersed or assembled again through the folding and unfolding of the concertina spine. The act of opening and closing the books is a reminder of the action and sound when wooden floors are ripped out of their roots when homes are demolished.Sourced from various second hand building shops in South Africa, usually in areas where social engineering practices - disguised as urban renewal - are prevalent, the floor blocks are direct links to the many floors in many homes that do not exist anymore. The marks of residue on the underneath side of the blocks are significant: they are reminders of, and verified documents of the previous installed floor. The floor of a house maps the inside spaces of a home, it defines the spaces where people experience their most intimate moments. By retrieving the floor blocks and inverting them in the books, I attempt to re-connect to these experiences. Like Laura U Marks, I maintain that objects “are not inert and mute but they tell stories and describe
trajectoriesâ€? (2000:120), and that their meaning and significance resides in their physicality, their materiality and their tactility, in the same way â€œas habit stores memory in the bodyâ€? (2000:121). The intention with this series of artist books is to challenge traditional ways of knowledge acquisition and the archiving of the experience of loss. It is above all a response to the ways we experience space, and how the pre-history of a place impacts on our understanding of place and place-making.
End, D.L. & Kazanjian,D. (eds). 2003. Loss: The politics of mourning. Berkeley: University of California Press. Marks, L.U. 2000. The skin of the film: intercultural cinema, embodiment, and the senses. Durham: Duke University Press.
Eight ways to animate loss (2017), Concertina flag books, discarded parquet floor blocks, paper, mull fabric, Variable dimensions. Eight unique volumes.
Heléne van Aswegen bookoffriends.com “If in the history of the manuscript and printed book, artists have re-asserted control over the finished book,” writes art historian Stephen Bury, “they have also recognised that the reader need not be cast as a passive receiver” (2002:3). My artist’s book, entitled bookoffriends.com (2011) addresses Bury’s notion of ‘passive receiver’ by inviting people to be a part of the making and display of a book. The work consists of bound coffee filters, collected, dried and cleaned over the duration of a year. Each filter represents the social interaction with a friend or acquaintance. The engagement of physically meeting someone for a cup of coffee could be framed as a direct attempt to circumvent the ever increasing tendencies to rather ‘catch up’ via digital platforms provided on the Internet (such as Facebook). This gesture of cocreation however seems to contradict the practice of typical authorship. The process of asking people to help create the contents of a book parodies the current decentralised accumulation of knowledge and information via the Internet (for example Wikipedia). The coffee stains on the filter papers serves as the metaphorical ink that documents the conversations held that day, each stain being unique. The individual pages are slightly brittle and frail, stiffened on the edges by the accumulated coffee stains. However, when bound together the book becomes quite robust and the emergent caterpillar-esque form allows the viewer to reconfigure the arrangement of the bookform.
Bury, S. 2002. Artists’ books in Book Art, Issue 12: summer. Engage. London. [Available online] vdocuments.mx/documents/artists-books-stephen-bury.html
thebookoffriends.com (2011), Used coffee filters, Variable dimensions. Edition: unique.
Bevan de Wet Black Fractal Black Fractal explores the materiality of paper, and seeks new potentials in traditional printmaking and folding techniques. Exploring the seemingly fragile nature of paper, the material is transformed into a newly sculpted form, which appears to hold a weighted presence, generating an abstract and unfamiliar form. The work is an allegory for the breakdown of our traditional values, and the fragmented nature of our engagement with space and relation to the world.
Black Fractal (2018), Linocut and monotype on hand folded paper, 820mm x 500mm x 60 mm. Edition: unique.
Jessica Staple XXVII: Lights Out Scrolls belong to an ancient world, traditionally made from papyrus or parchment. By the fourth century, the scroll was succeeded by a Roman invention, the codex (Dartmouth Ancient Books Lab 2016). Readers began folding the scrolls to make them easier to read and to handle. Eventually these folds were cut to create individual sheets that were bound along the side, thereby creating the more familiar book form. The codex had the added advantage of durability, as it was much easier to store and generally did not suffer from the same wear and tear that came with rolling and unrolling scrolls (Howard 2005:10-11). XXVII: Lights Out is presented as a printed work but takes the form of a scroll once rolled up. It drew most of its inspiration from the structure and symbolism of lighthouses, an area of interest to the artist. For this piece, the Roman Tower of Hercules, located in present-day A CoruĂąa, Spain, was brought into focus. Nearly 2000 years old and still in use, it is believed to be the oldest working lighthouse in the world (Veronico 2008:7). The lighthouse is mentioned in a monastic scroll dating from 1285 and was recognised as a major seamark on the trading route to the Roman provinces of Galacia and Gaul. As the Roman Empire began to decline, the Corunna lighthouse and others like it fell into disuse and disrepair. This was largely due to the fear of the roaming Viking ships, whose denizens had a formidable reputation for raiding and destruction. Lights on shore could be hazardous, and so between C.E. 600 and C.E.
1100 much of Western Europe was in darkness, with no known major light sources along the coasts or in harbours (Williams 2001:14). According to monastic manuscripts, a few lights were dotted about England and France in the ninth century, but these were no more than candles in chapel windows belonging to early Christian priests (Williams 2001:14).
Dartmouth Ancient Books Lab. 2016. The historical background of the ancient scroll [Online]. Available: https://sites.dartmouth.edu/ancientbooks/2016/05/24/the-historical-background-of-theancient-scroll/ [2018, July 13]. Howard, N. 2005. The book: The life story of a technology. Connecticut: Greenwood Press. Veronico, B.S. 2008. Images of America: Lighthouses of the bay area. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing. Williams, P. 2001. Beacon on the rock: The dramatic history of lighthouses from Ancient Greece to the present day. London: Aurum Press.
XXVII: Lights Out (2018), Monotype, drypoint and collagraph print on fabric with brass tubes, 1610 mm x 550 mm. Edition: unique.
Keith Dietrich and Heléne van Aswegen kwaaiafrikaans kwaaiafrikaans is a collaborative bookwork between Heléne van Aswegen and Keith Dietrich. The work was initiated by Heléne, and they both came together and played with various mediums to find materials in which they shared a common interest. They settled on paper with black foil and ink drawings and printed text, which was to be dipped in wax. From that point onwards they worked fairly independently of each other, with Heléne conceptualising and executing the drawings while Keith conceptualised the text pages. What emerged is a section-fold book comprising black foil drawings interspersed with text pages designed as an a-z list of kwaai Afrikaans words where the words themselves become images. Afrikaans is a beautifully rich, colourful, expressive and powerful language containing numerous loanwords from European, Asian and African languages. It is a simple yet highly complex language where one word can have multiple meanings depending on the context in which it is used. As such, the meanings of many words become completely lost in translation. Afrikaans is a dynamic language that grows and changes continuously. It is enriched with slang, which makes it delightfully earthy and candid, and as such it can become quite robust. kwaaiafrikaans embraces two sides of the Afrikaans language: it can be kwaai meaning angry/vicious, or kwaai meaning cool/ awesome. kwaaiafrikaans is an a-z book of kwaai Afrikaans words accompanied by some of their kwaai synonyms.
kwaaiafrikaans (2018), Coptic sewn book, 246 mm x 244 mm x 40mm. Edition of 10.
HelĂŠne van Aswegen Boundless As a binder by occupation HelĂŠne van Aswegen finds the process of sewing (and teaching the steps of sewing) as the best part in the binding process. After the papers are folded the task of sewing them together produces the most satisfying effect transforming loose sheets into a multiple plane object. Books are not always sewn, they are sometimes stapled, glued, ring bound or even bolted. Nevertheless, the technique of stitched paper is best on a structural, functional and arguably an aesthetic level. It is with this in mind that the artist decided to celebrate the humble stitch that usually disappears in the gutter of the book, by removing its original function and bring the visual potential of the thread to the fore. The abstract image invites the viewer to see what they want to see similar to viewing clouds in the sky or the varying images evoked in our minds when reading the same story.
Boundless (2015), Fabriano paper and thread. Edition of 2.
Neil le Roux and Helene van Aswegen Mine Working predominantly in the respective fields of drawing and bookbinding, we decided to collaborate on an artwork that combines elements from both these genres. We however decided to approach this project by working in non-conventional ways: drawing by taking away (or cutting) as opposed to mark making, and binding a paper block on all four sides to keep it closed as opposed to be opened and paged through like a typical book. The result is a fixed stack of sixty 420gsm paper sheets, each with holes cut out at different sizes. We took inspiration from the epic terraces of open pit-mines such as the Grasberg mine in Indonesia and the Bingham Canyon mine in the United States. By being both profoundly beautiful and terrifying at the same time, the formal qualities of these pit mines evoke a sense of the sublime as defined by eighteenth-century philosopher Edmund Burke. These massive holes are visceral visual artifacts of both human engineering ingenuity and our devastating impact on the natural environment. The process of mining, excavating multiple layers of matter to uncover treasure is not too dissimilar to how we discover and assimilate knowledge. By uncovering one page at a time, we delve deeper into stories, unearthing mental treasures as we read a book.
Mine (2018), Paper and thread, 450 mm x 410 mm x 58 mm. Edition: unique.