Lately I’ve been significantly word averse, no doubt the result of the frenetic barrage of commentary, speculation and speeches surrounding the elections. I have not been able to bear the news or e-mail, and certainly not Facebook. Alarmingly even novels have been loosing their charm.
As palliative I decided to revisit Werner Pfeiffer’s exhibit at the Art Center and Art Library at Vassar College in nearby Poughkeepsie NY. His spare and evocative Artist Books and Book Objects draw the viewer into a stillness that centers and enriches. This definitely helped.
In particular I wanted to experience Pfeiffer’s artist book of Out of the Sky once again. I like the way this tribute to the lives lost on 9-11 engages with an eloquence beyond the scope of text. The structure draws on Pfeiffer’s sensibilities as typographer, graphic artist and sculptor.
Each tower is constructed of segments that are stacked over an internal structure. It is not possible for viewers to actually construct and deconstruct the towers, or to lay the folded components to rest in the box structure that houses the book, but even imagining the process stirred in me a deep physical sense of tenderness and compassion.
Part of the exhibit includes videos showing the construction/ deconstruction process, along with interviews with Pfeiffer about how he developed this piece. (You can also find interviews with the artist on You Tube)
It is interesting to me that as we move into new technologies that change our idea of what a book is, more and more artists have taken to making artist books. Perhaps this denotes nostalgia for what is passing. But it may be that as books lose primacy as containers of textual content, we are all being freed to explore the poetic in the physicality of book. What are the messages in the texture of paper under our fingers, the play of color, the subtle influences of typography, the responsiveness of structure as we manipulate and explore? In what ways can a book communicate in languages beyond traditional text? Possibilities abound at ReexaminingBooks: Artist Books and Book Objects by Werner Pfeiffer at the Art Center and the Art Library at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie NY, continuing through December 15, 2012.