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Bookworks
Tisch and Koppelman Galleries
August 22 – December 15, 2019
Thursday September 5, 6-8pm, Opening Reception

Featuring Sonia Almedia, Jen Bervin, Laura Blacklow, Carolina Caycedo, Paul Chan, Julie Chen, Eric Doeringer, John Gonzalez, Marisa Jahn, Steffani Jemison and Jamal Cyrus, Angela Lorenz, LTTR, Heidi Neilson, Dieter Roth, Klaus Scherübel, Dayanita Singh, and Chantal Zakari + Mike Mandel, among others.

Bookworks presents a wide-ranging exploration of the practice of artist-made books, drawing on the contemporary artists’ books and special collections at Tufts University. Featuring over eighty objects, the exhibition considers book making as a distinctive art form that questions the structure, function, and value of printed matter, which has found new footing in the digitally marked twenty-first century.

A play on the term artworks, Bookworks borrows its title from Ulises Carrión (1941–1989), a champion of the book as an artwork in and of itself, rather than merely a vehicle for text. In his 1975 manifesto, The New Art of Making Books, Carrión argued for an expanded understanding of the form’s capacity—like a film or painting—to provide a unique visual and material experience. Today, as screens become the primary mode of communication for much of the world, the physicality and pacing of a book—embodied by the simple gesture of turning a page—offers a familiar but increasingly urgent alternative to the relentless speed of swiping and scrolling through information available online.

Tracing an arc from the singular book-object to the form as a collective space, the exhibition highlights key projects from the 1960s to now and features examples of early modern material as well. Through four main themes—materiality, sequencing, communication, and gathering—Bookworks explores the basic characteristics of a book as a contemporary and historical format: its material make up, the ordering of its pages, the text it communicates, and the gathering of ideas it holds.

Bookworks is organized by Dina Deitsch, Director and Chief Curator, with Chiara Pidatella, Research Curator, and Graduate Fellows Emily Chun AG20, and Kevin Vogelaar AG20. Special thanks to Darin Murphy, Head of the W. Van Alan Clark, Jr. Library at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts, and Christopher Barbour, Curator of Rare Books and Humanities Collections Librarian, at Tisch Library.