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Opposition: 23rd Annual New Jersey Book Arts Symposium

October 23, 2017
New Jersey Book Arts Symposium

Register to attend the New Jersey Book Arts Symposium by October 30 at

Opposition: 23rd Annual New Jersey Book Arts Symposium
Friday, November 3, 2017
8:45 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Register by October 31, 2017:

Exhibit on display through January 29, 2018.

Opposition, the 23rd annual New Jersey Book Arts Symposium, will feature seven distinguished artists whose work opens up for discussion the presence and uses of opposition in the 21st-century artists’ book, and an Austrian bookseller who specializes in artists' books.

Susanne Padberg of galerie DRUCK & BUCH will begin the day speaking from her experience as a bookseller in Vienna.

Lesley Dill’s tissue thin books and book gowns trace a porous boundary between the ephemeral object and durative language, between matter and spirit. Drawing on history and fashion, she suggests an archetypal point of origin contained within a swarm of momentary impressions, a grounding within history that has at best a shifting ground.

Also working in fabric, China Marks challenges binary thinking and binaries in juxtaposing demotic and sacred imagery to construct liminal perspectives upon the terrors and joys of temporalized embodiment. Working in the spirit of Dada, Marks creates drawings by sewing machine, which one might suggest serves reflexively as a “rocking horse” symbol.

Susan Happersett, widely admired for books that bridge the simplicity of counting and the inexhaustibility of imagination, focuses on the mediating instrument of the mind, itself, and the myriad implicit contradictions that play within thought.

One of the artistic decisions that play throughout OPPOSITION and indeed the last half-century of artists’ books, attends to the creative tension between two and three dimensions: the “virtual” book, in which text draws the reader into illusionary space, and the actual three dimensions occupied by the book and the reader’s body. Escher-like, both spaces contain the other. French artist and scholar Gaëlle Pelachaud’s pop-up books subvert the hegemony of the “virtual” book and, like Marks’s drawings, tease the defining opposition of demotic gesture and high art.

One of the longest running American private presses and early proponents of the artists’ book, Purgatory Pie Press (operated by Dikko Faust and Esther Smith) has functioned in continual opposition to bibliographic normativity for over 40 years. Among their more recent excursions, Faust and Smith’s books and installations question the binary of motion and stillness, stasis and chaos, sound and silence.

With a similar poetical bent, artist, paper-maker, and scholar, Robbin Ami Silverberg’s multifaceted works are divided into multiple parts that foreground questions of gathering and dispersing, of individual riffs and overarching tones, wholeness and independence. Requiring readers to construct them, Silverberg’s books also explode the opposition between artist and viewer, maker and taker.

Using a variety of materials, these and the other artists included in the exhibition—Béatrice Coron & Mick Stern, Asha Ganpat, Karen Guan¬cione, Anja Harms, Burgi Kühne-mann, Catherine LeCleire, MaryAnn L. Miller, Yasutomo Ota, Anna Pinto, Amanda Thackray, Debra Weier, and Marcia Wilson—draw on oppositions in form and content, concept and execution, in considering the work as an aesthetic thing and as a fluid symbol in an ongoing social discourse. In doing so, they draw attention to the vitality of the book and bibliocentric interpretation, and reinforce its relevance to enduring aesthetic discourses and to contemporary political crises.