Online Opening Reception: Spring 2021 Exhibitions

Image of a dark colored egg in a protective transparent case, with neon green illustrations
Courtesy of Oscar Salguero
Several hang tags with images of people and text connected by reddish brown string tied together
The Anatomist, Betsy Stirratt
A triptych of diffused images, the first is of a silhouette of a figure, the second is darkly colored, the third is off-white with a zig zag pattern
Maureen Catbagan, Triptych: Lights, Tunnels, Passages & Shadows

Event Info

Join us for an online opening reception of three new exhibitions at Center for Book Arts. The evening will include exclusive walk-throughs of each exhibition, alongside remarks by the curator and artists.

NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Center for Book Arts will hold the opening reception entirely online. A Zoom link will be sent in an email to all registrants.

Interspecies Futures [IF]

Interspecies Futures [IF] is the first survey of bookworks by leading international practitioners from the contemporary fields of bio-art and speculative design who have turned to the codex as a tool for the proposal of alternative human-nonhuman scenarios.

Informed by methods from conceptual art, posthumanism, biotechnology (CRISPR), and emerging interfaces (AI, VR, 3D printing), these artists produce documents that defy the borders between fiction and reality. In their hands field guides, lost diaries, investigative dossiers, lab journals, corporate catalogues become portals into multiple interspecies possibilities.

Veiled Taxonomies

Veiled Taxonomies is an ongoing project about the fractious relationship humans have with the preservation and interpretation of nature. Employing the book as the center of this investigation, artist Betsy Stirratt examines how plants, animals, and humans are represented in museums and collections, and how they are preserved, classified and displayed. 

This series exhibits photographs taken while visiting natural history and medical museums in Europe and the US. Such curated settings reveal subtle information about the systematic preservation of organic remains— tangibility, placement and labeling matter greatly in these environments. The combined images of remains, sometimes intact, sometimes decaying, and the accompanying explanations hint at questions about our regard for life and how it is shown, interpreted, preserved and valued. 

The context and framework of the exhibition chosen by collectors/curators helps to shape our responses, which can sometimes be emotional, even visceral. These settings can affect not only how we view nature but can shape our relationship to it. Veiled Taxonomies tells a multi-layered story of our curiosity about the natural world but also about our attempts to order it in the face of extreme climate change.

Light, Tunnels, Passages, and Shadows

Lights, Tunnels, Passages, and Shadows by Maureen Catbagan examines the transcendent possibilities of peripheral spaces within museums. A utilitarian passage transforms into an ethereal opening. A mundane corner vibrates with a change of light. An invisible worker’s movement conveys visual poetry. Stairwells become illuminated, meaningful, and spiritual. Shifting the visual paradigm of these spaces, objects, and people changes their meaning and the viewers’ relation to them.

The photographic series is featured in a boxed folio containing three fold-outs that enable the images to be arranged into multiple compositions creating abstract narratives that connect the peripheral to the sublime while focusing on the museum worker as mediator. These re-configured fold-outs act as architectural interventions illustrating that while the marginal is designated towards boundaries, it can also be the edge towards boundlessness.

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Support for the Center for Book Arts’ visual arts programming is provided, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Counciland by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

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