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ISSN 0160-0699

Volume 31, No. 2, Jun 2008

Conceptually Bound 3, a review

Conceptually Bound 3: An Exhibition of Artists’ Books
Mohr Gallery - Community School of Music and Arts
Mountain View, CA

Mountain View — Now in its third incarnation since 2001, Conceptually Bound 3 took another look at the artist’s book through the lens of both form and function. In the past 7 years, 170 works from over 90 local, national and international artists have been shown through the Conceptually Bound exhibitions.

Curator Nanette Wylde, an Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History from California State University, Chico, was inspired to examine through these shows the many forms of an artist’s book—“the theme of Conceptually Bound refers to the idea that the content of the book is in part expressed by the form the book takes,” she notes, “the books in Conceptually Bound reference the individual context of what is meaningful in the artists’ lives.”

Some highlights
Paula Levine’s Rubbed until ‘peace’ appears (1994) shows a bible that has been soaked in water for 29 days a, drained, randomly opened and rubbed with the artist’s finger. She rubbed the pages until the word “peace” appeared. A very spiritual piece, both in subject matter, materials (just a Bible and water) and in the process used to reveal the desired word. She based her work on the killing of twenty-nine Palestinian worshipers in the Cave of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron. What results, visually, is a quietly moving topographical terrain of pages that uncovers her wish.

Using the genre of Romance Novels as a source for uncovering truths, falsehoods and musings on sex, romance, and relationships, Adrienne O’Hanlon’s altered book Pieces/False Prophets (ongoing) catalogues over a decade of reading the romantic novel and chronicles, as she puts it, “years of evolving thoughts about the cultural preconceptions of romanticized love versus real experience.” In a three foot heart-shaped box, O’Hanlon has altered romance novels by cutting them to fit together in the box as chocolates would in a truffle box. Each book can be picked up and inside each is bookmarked a specific page with typewritten text inserted by the artist. What results is both visually and conceptually clever.

Kristy Deetz’s work, Spiral Bound, is a mid-sized carved wooden book wall piece, covered in beeswax, and bound (spirally, of course) with different colors of human hair. Spiral Bound is one of a series of what Deetz calls “Earth Texts”. She says the “visual puns and metaphors of the book connects ideas of language to both earth and body.” While Deetz seems to be concerned here with corporeal and earthly interpretations, the long hair that connects both sides of the book also seem to reference more feminine bindings: the corset.

Conceptually Bound was a show that must be frequented more than once—as usual, there was much to digest and not all on the first. The show spanned cultures, countries and content, and did so in a very engaging way. The show ran through 26 May 2008.

Wylde, Nanette. (2007). Conceptually Bound: An Exhibition of Artists’ Books, Redwood City, CA: Hunger Button Press.