UNBOUND: An Exhibition in Three Chapters

16 March – 6 May, 2012

Doug Beube, Masters in Art: Van Gogh, 2009

Opening Reception Thursday 15 March at 8 pm

“Painting is dead. Long live painting!” The obituary for painting, playfully turned on its head by Salvador Dali, has been written multiple times throughout the 20th Century. Yet, well into this new century, it continues to flourish as a critically relevant practice as waves of artists reinvent the purposeful placement of pigment-laden liquids and pastes on an ever-expanding range of substrates. Is it now the book’s turn to be declared dead? As libraries clear out their stacks and publishers experiment with digital means of distribution, is the book as a printed, portable object poised to be tossed onto the waste-heap of history?

Or, as with painting, is the pronounced death of the book premature? The commercial publishing industry may be facing a crisis in terms of production and distribution but, as witnessed every Fall at the New York Art Book Fair that the Dalhousie Art Gallery attends with its colleagues from Halifax INK, there is an explosion of creative book-based and printed matter practices happening around the world—from digitally designed and printed limited edition books to DIY photocopied ’zines and book-works, and one-off, book-based sculptural objects. Told in three chapters, this exhibition celebrates the resilience of books and printed matter as ‘page-based objects constructed with images and/or text’ that thrive where the literary and visual arts collide. 

Chapter 1 - One of a Kind: Unique Artist’s Books
Curated by Heide Hatry
Heide Hatry is a New York-based German neo-conceptualist artist who also has a life-long engagement with printed matter, initially as a young maker of book-works followed by a seventeen-year career as an antiquarian bookseller. This section of the exhibition presents works by over 60 artists that Hatry has brought together around Franz Kafka’s injunction that “a book must be an ice-axe to break the frozen seas of our souls”, originally curated for the Pierre Menard Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts in March, 2011.

Chapter 2 - Books as Visual Objects
Curated by Peter Dykhuis
Sometimes book-works or publications are not intended to function as book-like objects in the traditional sense of the word. Artists Doug Beube, Michael Maranda and Susan Mills create work that is more akin to paper-based sculpture where the relationships between covers, pages and content are reinvented, while pieces such as Robert Kelly’s Minutiae become scripts for additional performative presentations. 

Chapter 3 - John Murchie: see what you think
Typically spaces for the quiet contemplation of works of art, galleries and museums often have an imposing presence of silence. During see what you think, an installation by Sackville, New Brunswick artist and former librarian John Murchie, this silence will be interrupted by the mechanical sounds of a paper shredder as it gradually consumes the Gallery's archives. The installation, which will develop over the course of the exhibition, explores the accumulation and preservation of "stuff" within the context of continually expanding archive

“The book is dead. Long live the book!”