Review: Book Club at Harrison Center

 

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Harrison

Gallery, Aug. 6. The book has played a crucial role as organizing principle in

what we call the civilized world, affecting how we relate to and understand

knowledge about that world and ourselves. Artists who use the book as a

creative medium pose the question: What happens to our thinking, let alone our

reading, by asserting that an object is a "book" because we say it so?

The

third annual exhibition of art books at Harrison Gallery, curated by the Herron

Art Library, displayed a handsome array of sophisticated and often exquisitely

rendered variations on this cerebral theme. Many of these so-called books, like

Katya Reka's "Man Overboard," a bound flip pad of abstractly painted swatches,

carry no text.Others are really

3-D installations, combining objects and texts (Sarah Strong's "The Existence

of Us") or detailed assemblages (Wendy Fernstrum's "Literary Essences") that

evoke literary figures like Whitman and Dylan, while recalling the boxes of

Joseph Cornell. Gatis Cirulis' "Dumb Book" is just that — a heavy leather

tome, bound with wool — every page apparently blank.

I say

apparently, because perhaps the most telling thing about these works is their

untouchability. They are read from an aesthetic distance and their language is

highly conceptual. This makes them more than a parlor trick, but prone to

preciosity. Through Aug. 27.

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