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Art

By Carving Into a Text, Artist Guy Laramée Finds a New Way to Excavate Meaning

January 17, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Dedo de Deus,” courtesy of JHB Gallery

There’s a well-known saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. For Guy Laramée (previously), though, a books’ contents aren’t the only important aspect either. The Montreal-based artist repurposes encyclopedic volumes and series of dictionaries to create topographic carvings that dip into and excavate the pages, framing the physical object as a work of art in itself. Laramée’s latest projects include a piece with minuscule carved steps scaling a mountainside and another with moss-covered ridges jutting up from low valleys. His work titled “Journey to the Center of the” features two side-by-side texts with a cavernous hole bored through them, piercing entirely through to the other side.

In 2018, the artist released a TEDx talk titled “No outside,” in which he considers conceptions of art in an age that fosters a growing addiction to ideas, leaving little room for contemplation. He refers to his text-based projects as being the perfect medium for exploring his “love-hate relationship with intellectual knowledge, (his) critique of the ideologies of progress, and the idea that true knowledge could very well be an erosion,” as he explores questions about the relationship between meaning, emotion, and art, more broadly.

Additional philosophical musings can be found on Laramée’s site, while he shares more of his quarried landscapes on Instagram.

Left: “Brazil II,” courtesy of Foster White Gallery. Right:”Chinese Sanscrit,” courtesy of WB Fine Arts. 

“Chinese Sanscrit,” courtesy of WB Fine Arts. 

“Nouveau Larousse Universal,” courtesy of Foster White Gallery.

“Chi,” courtesy of WB Fine Arts

Left: “Humanités.” Right: “Journey to the Center of the,” both courtesy of JHB Gallery

“Ruines,” courtesy of JHB Gallery

“Timepieces,” courtesy of JHB Gallery

 

 



Craft

A New Book Compiles Work from 84 Contemporary Artists Who are Reinventing Embroidery

January 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

“The Height of Folly” (2017) by Michelle Kingdom, linen and embroidery thread. Images © Gingko Press, shared with permission

A new book by Charlotte Vannier considers how embroidery has evolved from a domestic task mostly done by women into an art. Comprised of the work of 84 contemporary artists from around the world⁠—including Elisabeth Bucht, Rossana Taormina, Diane Meyer, and Aline Brant⁠From Thread to Needle: Contemporary Embroidery Art features full-page illustrations of embroidered pieces utilizing cotton canvas, photographs, plastic, and wire mesh. The 368-page book highlights work that is particularly distant from the decorative needlework of previous generations and ranges from fully embroidered cloth to sparingly stitched images to threaded toast. Often, the artists reinvent the craft by altering the methods and materials they use and rejecting the outdated notion that embroidery is only a feminine past time.

In an interview with VC Projects, Vannier described her obsession with thread and embroidery. “I am fascinated by the idea that a simple thread becomes a piece of art completely, and how many artists use it. Thread is like a pencil,” the writer says.

From Thread to Needle is available now from Gingko Press, which publishes an assortment of visual culture projects. Keep up with the press’s upcoming releases on Instagram.

“Chirping Beauty” (2011) by Laura McKellar, digital collage and embroidery

“Angel” (2018) by Aline Brant, freehand embroidery on photographic print

“A Turncoat” (2014) by Raija Jokinen, fibre sculpture

“Carbs” (2011) by Dylan Chubb, toaster, embroidery, and silk thread

 

 



History

A Quirky Collection of Cat Whiskers Diligently Cataloged in a Handbound Book from the 1940s

January 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

An inside spread of the handmade book created from 1940-1942 by Janet Gnosspelius. All images © Collingwood Archive, shared with permission

This recent discovery in the Collingwood Archive of the Cardiff University Special Collections purrfectly catalogs a young girl’s childhood quirks. A handmade book by Janet Gnosspelius contains every one of her cats’ whiskers found in her home from 1940 to 1942. Gnosspelius wove the whiskers into the pages, dated, and noted how each was discovered, whether “while playing darts,” “under edge of lino in pantry,” on the “dining room hearthrug,” or “under back door draught protector.”

Gnosspelius was the daughter of artist and sculptor Barbara Collingwood and the granddaughter of W.G. Collingwood, John Ruskin’s secretary, and was one of the first women to attend the Liverpool School of Architecture. Archivists say the meticulous nature Gnosspelius exhibited in creating her book remained throughout her life as she worked in “local history and building conservation, regularly posting samples of masonry to Liverpool City Planning Office, neatly labelled with their provenance and date, demanding their restoration.”

At age 40, Gnosspelius channeled her creative energy once again into creating a special diary documenting the lives of her feline friends. “The diary is no ordinary one,” a note to Colossal from archivists reads. “It is written from the perspective of her beloved ginger cat Butterball, recording the dates of his fights, illnesses, and stays with friends: ‘9 March 1965: wrapped my mouse in the mat outside kitchen door.'” More information about Gnosspelius’s family history is available in this online exhibition.

 

 



Art

A New Book Chronicles Over Two Centuries of Japanese Woodblock Prints

December 15, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Featuring 200 prints by 89 artists, Taschen’s new book Japanese Woodblock Prints (1680- 1983) is a journey through two centuries of the art form. Ranging from depictions of everyday life to kabuki and erotica, the XXL edition is a 622-page art history lesson and a high resolution visual compendium rolled into one.

For this tome, Taschen spent three years reproducing woodblock prints from museums and private collections from around the world. Written by Andreas Marks, head of the Japanese and Korean Art Department at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the book is divided chronologically into seven chapters beginning with the 17th century early masters and concluding with the Shin-hanga movement. Large, vibrant images of demons, villages, confidants, and landscapes fill the book’s pages, complemented by essays and captions that reveal more about the artists and techniques. There are 17 fold-outs, as well as a full appendix listing the artists, the titles of the woodblock prints, and editorial notes.

To add this comprehensive edition to your art book library, head over to Taschen.

 

 



Art

New Book Collects ROA’s Black-and-White Creatures in Photographs from Around the World

December 11, 2019

Grace Ebert

All photographs © ROA, shared with permission. Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Those unable to experience the black-and-white murals of Belgian artist ROA (previously) in person can admire photographs of his works in the recently published Codex. Released by Lannoo Publishers, the 352-page book contains four chapters centered on Eurasia, Africa, America, and Oceania, regions where ROA’s depictions of local animals blanket building walls. The photographs portray a snake wound around itself, six different species perched on vertical ledges, and an alligator on its back with its tail scaling a fire escape.

ROA works directly on the building, foregoing sketches and projections, and uses the architecture to inform the ways he paints birds, rodents, and other native creatures. Captivated by anatomy, the artist attempts to animate his paintings, giving energy and life to species often disregarded by humans. “Exploration of nature, more specifically of the animal world, can lead to increased empathy,” he says. “It teaches you something substantial about how one should live a good life.” The monochromatic murals’ scale often makes animals larger than their real-life bodies, securing and emboldening their monumental presence.

Codex, which is available now, also incorporates writing from RJ Rushmore, Lucy R. Lippard, Johan Braeckman, Gwenny Cooman, Robert R. Williams, and Kathy De Nève.

Johannesburg, South Africa

Puerto Rico

Vardø, Norway

São Paulo, Brazil

Perth, Australia

Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

 

 



Illustration

‘Joy of Reading’: A New Book of Illustrations by Christoph Niemann Promotes Free Press

December 9, 2019

Grace Ebert

Illustrator Christoph Niemann (previously) has released The Paper, a book celebrating what he calls “the joy of reading magazines and newspapers.” The wordless book totals 194 pages and features pink, black, and white illustrations that depict people engrossed in magazines and newspapers. One couple lays with a large piece of newsprint covering them like a blanket, while another image depicts numerous hands and arms coming from all directions to grab and hold on to pages. Niemann says his intent for the book was to highlight the problems surrounding attacks on the media and press freedoms.

The world is facing countless pressing issues. I don’t know how to solve them, but I’m convinced that in order to find out, we need a press that can ask the relevant questions, without fear of threats, persecution and violence. We need to protect reporters who take risks to shine light into the darkest corners of the world and to bring us the truth about sensitive subjects involving our health, our safety and our geopolitical environment.

All of the proceeds from The Paper will go to Reporters Without Borders, an organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the freedom of information. The book, which is published by Abstractometer Press and features design by Ariane Spanier, is available for purchase on Niemann’s site. Find more of Niemann’s illustrations that are at the crossroads of humor and activism on Instagram.

 

 



Design Science

Returning to Roots: A New Book Highlights How Indigenous Practices Can Create More Sustainable Technology

December 3, 2019

Grace Ebert

A young fisherman walks under a living root bridge at Mawlynnong village, India. In the relentless damp of Meghalaya’s jungles the Khasi people have used the trainable roots of rubber trees to grow Jingkieng Dieng Jri living root bridges over rivers for centuries. Copyright: © Amos Chapple

Self-described designer, activist, academic, and author Julia Watson is trying to quash the boundary between native practices and technology in a new book that explores the ways indigenous wisdom can combat the high-tech approach to design and fighting climate change. In Lo—TEK Design by Radical Indigenism, Watson shares knowledge that transcends generations and cultures in an attempt to debunk the myth that indigenous approaches are primitive and far removed from current conceptions of technology. Throughout its more than 400 pages, the book explores ideas from 20 countries, including Peru, the Philippines, Tanzania, Kenya, Iran, Iraq, India, and Indonesia, about how to tackle more sustainable technology and design. It also contains a forward from anthropologist Wade Davis.

Watson founded Julia Watson Studio, an urban design studio, in addition to co-founding “A Future Studio,” described as a collective of conscious designers. She also teaches urban design at Harvard and Columbia University. Lo—TEK is scheduled to be released this month by Taschen. If you liked this, check out the recently published Primitive Technology: A Survivalist’s Guide to Building Tools, Shelters, and More in the Wild.

 

A view over the sacred Mahagiri rice terraces, a small portion of the one thousand year old agrarian system known as the subak, which is unique to the island of Bali, Indonesia. Copyright: © David Lazar

 

In the Southern Wetlands of Iraq, an entire Ma’dan house known as a mudhif, which is built entirely of qasab reed without using mortar or nails, can be taken down and re-erected in a day. Copyright: © Jassim Alasadi

 

Built by the Tofinu, the city of Ganvie meaning ‘we survived’ floats on Lake Nokoué surrounded by a radiating reef system of twelve thousand acadja fish pens. Copyright: © Iwan Baan