Franklin Furnace actively collects, preserves, and presents art in book form published internationally since 1976. The Franklin Furnace Artists’ Books Collection reflects contemporary artist’s experiments with the book form as a provocative medium, as well as their inquiries into the role of books in our culture and the digital age.
Artists’ books have challenged centuries of artistic tradition and have finally begun to be acknowledged as valuable to art history. The revolutionary concept of the artists’ book lies in granting artistic status to a commonplace, non-precious, and widely-distributed object through the choices and designations of the artist. Franklin Furnace accepts it at face value when an artist calls their work an artists’ book. The mission of Franklin Furnace’s collection is to promote boundary-breaking bookworks that challenge the entrenched assumptions of what constitutes art.
As a celebration of FF’s 46th Anniversary, this exhibition highlights one artists’ book per year from 1976 to 2022, representing 60 international artists in total. Alongside the work of more traditional artists’ book-makers, and that of interdisciplinary artists whose experiences in performance or mail art influence their publications, 46 also features three new videos demonstrating the interactivity of specific artists’ books, as well as selections from The Anamorphosis Prize, 2015-17, an open competition celebrating the creativity and independent efforts of artists who self publish photo-based books. 46 explores the visual experience of books and “bookness” by highlighting innovations in physical formatting and raising questions about the relationships between the verbal and the visual, between creators and their audiences, mainstream or otherwise. With a desire to democratize and engage the public through inexpensive, wide-reaching formats, artists have made the printed book form into an “alternative space” outside the traditional gallery and museum structure.
To read an artists’ book is to experiment with notions of sequence, repetition, juxtaposition, and duration while allowing for new possibilities within the narratives, mediums, and meanings specific to each book. The works on display in 46 stretch the concept of materiality with their movable parts, specially-constructed containers, and easily-distributed formats including newspapers and pamphlets. Some artists even use forms which preclude turning pages, encouraging the reader to interact with their works in unfamiliar ways, such as flipping, turning, scratching, scrolling, and unfolding.
On view April 21 - June 21, 2022
Brooklyn Campus Library, 3rd floor
46: Artists’ Books from Franklin Furnace Archive, 1976-2022, the 7th Annual Live at the Library exhibition, is curated by Fang-Yu Liu and Nicole Rosengurt and presented in honor of Michael Katchen, Senior Archivist, Franklin Furnace, in partnership with Pratt Institute Libraries and support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.