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23 October 12:15 pm WED

Talk: Chantal Zakari
Professor of the Practice in Graphic Arts
“Democratizing the Art Object: Navigating Self-Publishing”

The contemporary artist’s book is conceptual in its basis as it combines text and image; it is sculptural, through paper and binding; and it is also time based as a performative and sequential object. It is one of the rare intermedia art objects that brings artists from various backgrounds: drawing, painting, graphic arts, photography, print, creative writing, poetry, performance, and sculpture. For these reasons, in the 1960s artists of all backgrounds explored self-publishing as a form of creating cheap multiples of their work. This subversive act enabled them to create a parallel art venue to the high-priced elite art market. Especially since the 1990s digital revolution that came through image manipulation software, desktop publishing, Web publishing, and more recently, in the twenty-first century with mass customization, artists have had access to publishing in a way that was financially not feasible a few decades ago. Beyond the small and cheap zines of the punk era, artists are now able to design, edit, print, and self-publish books, bypassing the market-driven censorship created by the book publishing and distribution industries. This talk will use examples from Bookworks and works of many other artists to discuss the artist’s book as the quintessential democratic art object.

Chantal Zakari is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and art educator. In her work she draws upon contemporary social issues by making connections through personal narratives, history, and popular culture. Trained as a designer, she freely borrows strategies from various disciplines such as photography, documentary, performance, storytelling, and social interventions. Her work often culminates in an artist’s publication where the book format allows her to create dialogues outside of art establishments, where it can reach a wider audience. She has published (and copublished) seven mass-produced artist’s books in addition to a few hand-made ones.

Zakari is an exhibiting artist in "Bookworks", a wide-ranging exploration of the practice of artist-made books, drawing on the contemporary artists’ books and special collections at Tufts University. On view 22 August–15 December at the Aidekman Arts Center/Medford.