ARTISTS WHO DO BOOKS — IN THE RACK ROOM #29
Curated by Sarie Nijboer & Pierre Granoux
CLARA BAHLSEN, BLACK ZEUS BOOKS, ALBERT COERS, DANIELA COMANI, ANTJE DORN, KNUT ECKSTEIN, GFELLER + HELLSGÅRD, PIERRE GRANOUX, BEN GREBER, ANTOANETTA MARINOV, MATHIEU MERCIER, ANTJE PETERS…
Opening SAT, DEC 16, 2023, 2pm — 7pm
Open by appointment until JAN 13, 2024
LAGE EGAL [IN THE RACK ROOM]
Liselotte-Herrmann-Str. 26 (HH), 10407 Berlin
ARTISTS WHO DO BOOKS presents a selection of unique artists’ books, that challenge the medium of the book. The books on display can be considered as objects, sculptures or exhibition formats in their own right, thereby playfully exploring the boundaries of the medium. In addition to the books that will be available for sale, a selection of artworks by the participating artists will be exhibited.
The title takes its inspiration from Ed Ruscha’s 1976 work ARTISTS WHO DO BOOKS, a work on paper that refers to the black and white photographic publications of Ruscha and his artist colleagues. It was intended as a kind of non-style that did not contain any artistic judgement but rather focused on eliminating traditional artistic and technical categories.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, the artist’s book began to be recognised as an art genre in its own right. Conceptual artists such as Ed Ruscha, Dieter Roth and the Fluxus movement, including George Maciunas, paved the way for it. As a medium, these books were seen as open and expressive, that could play with the totality of its physical experience whilst challenging a new way of reading. In addition to using it as a space for artistic expression, the books also became a space for political actions and questioning the established art systems.
To this day, artists continue to create innovative artists’ books that take the medium itself as their subject matter, thereby breaking with traditional book design and opening up new creative spaces for art. The artists’ books presented here at IN THE RACK ROOM each take their own approach to the medium: from physical collages that are transformed into printed matter, to a fictional newspaper, a book project that refers to Helmut Newtown’s classic photobook SUMO, a catalogue that can be cut up and rearranged and many more…
ABOUT THE PARTICIPANTS
CLARA BAHLSEN works with photography, installation and text. In her work, she isolates objects from their surroundings and breaks them down into components of material, form and meaning. Bahlsen deals with visual perception and the alienation of narrative. Her conceptually driven work combines a variety of artistic, biographical and cultural references. Part of her practice is to publish her own artist books. “I am interested in how objects change their meaning, how they gain or lose it. I am interested in relations, connections – I have the utopian need to see them detached from people or objects.”
BLACK ZEUS BOOKS — In 2016, two human beings met in Berlin. Gounis and Layerlove were their names. One was a programmer, the other a graphic designer, and both suffered from terrible headaches; creative passions tormented their minds. So, they sat down and tried to find a solution to their problem. An agreement was quickly reached, and the two beings seized their axes, heaving them into their rough palms and opening their own skulls with repeated blows. Then, from their heads sprang the armored Black Zeus, devoted to artistic creation. Since then, Black Zeus has given substance to comics, art books, and prints with their maiden work being the fictional newspaper The Heroic Affair of Mr. Gouneberg.
ALBERT COERS is a conceptual artist, as well as an occasionally author and curator. Main areas of of artistic work are installations with found objects and language-related material, and artist publications. His most recent book, “Books to Do” is not the usual monograph, it’s a meta-book about already realized and yet to be realized book projects by Albert Coers in the form of a to-do list. It is a collection of ideas and subjects, a self-documentation, self-stimulation, and a joyfully utopian agenda at the same time.
DANIELA COMANI (b. 1965 Bologna) graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. In 1993 she received the MFA at the University of Fine Arts in Berlin. Since 1989 she lives and works in Berlin. Winner of several awards and scholarships, the artist participates in many group and solo exhibitions in Italy and abroad. The multimedia work of Daniela Comani touches subjects like history, language and identity. She often works with photos and texts from newspapers, television and books that allegedly appear familiar to us. Foreignness and intimacy, history and interpretation, and the mechanisms of comprehension are her concerns.
ANTJE DORN (b. 1964 Aachen) studied in Düsseldorf and lives in Berlin. Her works are represented in collections such as the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. For Antje Dorn, formed realities in its range of manifestations is the starting point for her art. She has a special liking for diverse “stuff”, the world of products, drinks packaging, cars or chocolate bars, as well as systems of imagery and lettering in public space such as pictograms and direction signs. Antje Dorn takes up these things and transforms them into drawings, paintings, photographs or three-dimensional objects.
KNUT ECKSTEIN (b. 1968 Essen) studied at Hunter College in New York with Robert Morris (1996–98). He previously studied at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen. An important resource for Eckstein’s work – be it in plastic or photography – is the built environment. With “poor” found materials, the artist creates stacked works from minimal resources. He lives and works in Berlin
The Swedish-French, Berlin-based artist duo GFELLER + HELLSGÅRD, have been working with screen printing for over 20 years. In their work, they test and expand the boundaries of screen printing and deconstruct the conventions, techniques and formal structures of printmaking. This is reflected in their print store and artist store Re:Surgo! where prints, artist books, sculptures, zines and more are created and produced. With each new project, their reputation as a master in screen printing and innovator of the medium is confirmed. Gfeller’s tireless artistic output began in 1995 when he started producing zines under the name Bongoût. In their collaborative work, Gfeller + Hellsgård emphasize experimentation, intuition, craft, DIY, and collaborative practices that include working with other artists on print projects and exhibitions.
BEN GREBER (b. 1979 Halle) studied at the Kunstakademie Münster under Katharina Fritsch and Ayse Erkmen. He lives and works in Berlin. In his sculptural artworks, BEN GREBER deals with de-objectification and the associated increasing invisibility of all processes and contexts that sustain life and society as an essential feature of our time. Combining materials such as acrylic glass, cardboard and stainless steel, Greber reflects on themes such as architectural remnants of human intervention in the utilitarian landscape, whereby the objects can be viewed as fragments.
ANTOANETTA MARINOV is a conceptual artist (Italian-Bulgarian, living mostly in Berlin) and mother, enjoying permanent creation, believing, everyone is an artist, asking protection from what she wants, articulates her ideas in minimal space interventions, videos, objects, actions and writings/books.
MATHIEU MERCIER is a contemporary French conceptual artist who uses everyday objects to explore the boundaries between functionality and artistic purposelessness. His work investigates key tropes of modern art and design, bridging media and styles in its interrogation of utopian movements such as De Stijl and Russian Constructivism, all while engaging mass-produced consumer objects. Mercier questions the larger cultural context within which these objects exist, often referencing avant-garde artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Piet Mondrian.
ANTJE PETERS was born in West-Berlin, Germany. She works as an artist with the medium photography and as a commercial photographer. Peters work has been shown at the exhibition ‘Contemporary Still Life’ at C/O Berlin (2017) and was featured in the recent Book ‘Still Life’ by Publisher Same Paper, Shanghai, China (2020). ‘My work as an artist takes the existing stereotype of the medium of photography as its focus. Photography of the product becomes the subject within my work itself. Well known visual strategies of the advertising world are analysed and broken down with an artistic approach. Art as well as commercial photography change and influence each other.’ Commercially, she contributes to international print-magazines like Baron, Numéro Berlin, Wallpaper*, ZEIT, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin and shot campaigns for Rimowa, Louis Vuitton, Farfetch, HUGO, Birkenstock and Glossier.