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This Friday, June 20th, 6:30pm — Come to the Center for Book Arts’ Artist Talk, moderated by Jennifer Tobias, featuring current exhibiting artists Ellen Harvey, Reynard Loki (MomenTech), Emilio Chapela Pérez, Lisa Schilling, and exhibition curator Rachel Gugelberger.
About Once Upon a Time, There was the End
Borrowing its title from the stock opening and closing phrases of traditional oral narratives, in particular fairy tales, the exhibition Once Upon a Time, There Was the End pivots around two central themes: stories elicited by modalities of the book in the face of rapid technological transformation, and anxiety about the end of the book as echoed in apocalyptic, dystopian and speculative visions. The exhibition presents the work of eleven artists who employ conceptual strategies and material forms that consider the dematerialization of the book; the interplay between physical and digital; and irreducible form(s) in books, works on paper, photography, video, sculpture, performance and Web-based projects.
Ellen Harvey‘s work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Sculpture Center, Bass Museum, Turner Contemporary, and Wave Hill, to name a few. She has completed public commissions in Chicago, the Bronx, Las Vegas, Brooklyn, and Andover in the States, and in Amelbergakerk, Bossuit, in Belgium. Her work is included in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Fidelity Investments, Hammer Museum, Rema Hort Mann Foundation, Neuberger & Berman, The Progressive Collection, Queens Museum of Art, West Collection, and Gwangju Art Museum. Harvey lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Created specifically for the exhibition, Looking-Glass iPad, Looking-Glass Kindle, Looking-Glass Nook consists of three drawings of the first page of Lewis Carroll”s 1871 novel Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There laser-etched onto Plexiglas mirrors fashioned after the back side of e-readers. The mirrored surfaces invoke Carroll’s fairy-tale world of opposites told through the reflections of a looking glass, where backwards-written text is made legible by reading it in a mirror, which also acts as a portal into Alice’s Wonderland. In Harvey’s looking glasses, however, the back of the mirror is impenetrable: The mirror text from page one of Through the Looking Glass is fixed and static on its surface, denying the reader access to the rest of the text.
Reynard Loki is part of an experimental production studio, MomenTech, an experimental production studio based in New York City. With instructional works, public interventions, user-generated content (UCG) and user-assisted content (UAC), MomenTech provides innovative solutions to leaders, teachers, curators, producers, directors and organizers looking for new ways to engage the public on the fundamental, practical and theoretical questions encountered at the intersection of education, politics, science, technology, arts, culture, religion and sports.
P.U.L.S.E. (Personal Universal Library System for Eternity) is presented as a print advertising campaign for a fictional product that offers its subscribers a variety of ways to preserve and access their personal libraries. The advertising campaign adopts a sleek corporate design and savvy, motivational slogan: “Read. Search. Organize. Share. Your books. Anywhere. Anytime.” In place of fear-mongering language, PULSE employs images that invoke catastrophe: a nuclear cloud, an underground bunker, a book in flames, a spaceship escaping an apocalyptic Earth surging to a new frontier.
Emilio Chapela Pérez generates his artist statement by a computer. He lives and works both in Mexico City and the Forgotten Realms of the Earth. His artistic practice is concerned with the development of a system that allows the operator to control various processes such as those used for conventional and unconventional methods to determine the relative importance of individualized factors. He has participated in shows at places like the U.S. Geological Society of America and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2010, he published his first book on the history of the world.
Pérez has two pieces in the exhibit. According to Google (2008) is a collection of image encyclopedias, each of which contain images returned from a Google search of their titles –1968, Border/Frontera, Capitalism, United States, etc. –serving as an immediately outdated compendium of images collected from the time he conducted the search. According to Google amplifies the extent to which combinations of image and language can both enhance and confuse understanding. In A book…(2012), a computerized text-to-speech voice reads a set of concatenated Wikipedia entries, beginning with the entry for the “book.” Using the last word of a line as the first word of the next line, A book… returns language to an acoustic space (albeit an artificial one), employing the chain verse technique used by medieval English town criers who brought news to a mainly illiterate populace through spoken word.
Lisa Schilling was born and raised in a small town in Northern California where a brush with violent crime and community scandal in the mid-80’s made a deep impression. Lisa worked in the film industry in Los Angeles in her late teens and early 20’s, building sets and mixing large quantities of fake blood for horror films, after which she attended art school at California College of Ars and Crafts in Oakland, CA (now California College of Arts) and Maryland Institute College of Arts in Baltimore, MD. Lisa lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
The House By The Sea: A Model (2014) is a visual interpretation of two texts: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished and posthumously published novel The Love of the Last Tycoon, and May Sarton’s journal, The House by the Sea, in which the “spell of the sea” acts as muse. Suggesting a physical enactment in theater or film underscored by the theme of creativity, House by the Sea: Model is both muse to and vessel of the story, speaking to how objects can record, hold and reveal embedded narratives.
Jennifer Tobias is the Reader Services Librarian at the Museum of Modern Art. She is a graduate of the City University of New York’s Art History program. Her 2012 doctoral dissertation is The Museum of Modern Art’s What is Modern? Series, 1938-1969.
Once Upon a Time, There was the End is curated by Rachel Gugelberger.