Bookmarking Book Art – Richard Nash

UN COUP DE DÉS JAMAIS N’ABOLIRA LE HASARD — ESPACE (2012)

UN COUP DE DÉS JAMAIS N’ABOLIRA LE HASARD — ESPACE (2012)
Richard Nash
Hand-cut concertina with inkjet printed turn-in cover. Closed: H286 x W204 mm; Open: W 11.2m. Unique. Acquired from the artist for donation to the Bodleian Library, 2 April 2022. Photos: Courtesy of Richard Nash; Books On Books Collection. Permission to display from the artist.

Credit goes to Rafaella della Olga’s Constellation (2009) for being the first homage to Un Coup de Dés to remind us that constellations appear against the blackness of space, not the whiteness of paper. But the first to apply this reminder in 180gsm Jet Black Canford paper to a double homage to Mallarmé’s poem and Marcel Broodthaers‘ version is Richard Nash’s Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira le Hasard — Espace (2012).

The preface

The opening pages

COMME SI … COMME SI spread

Additional photos courtesy of Richard Nash.

On the flyleaf, Nash has added his own verse entitled “Espace”, which set in Didot Regular is equally a typographic and poetic . Espace has a monumentality to it that encourages imagining it at a larger scale in different material; for example, a sculpture of cut steel painted black, installed along a seaside strand and backlit at night. In that evocative physical characteristic, Nash’s homage evokes the oracular and vatic tone of

RIEN / N’AURA EU LIEU / QUE LE LIEU / EXCEPTÉ / PEUT-ÊTRE / UNE CONSTELLATION (“Nothing will have taken place but the place except perhaps a constellation”)

and

Toute pensée émet un Coup de Dés (“All thought emits a throw of the dice”).

On Innards (2015)

On Innards (2015)
Amanda Couch, Mindy Lee, Andrew Hladky and Richard Nash
Limited edition publication individually stamped and numbered, digitally printed and cut, folded, bound and finished by hand. H260 x W205 mm, 200 pages of various intersecting formats and custom binding. Limited edition of 200, of which this is #74. Acquired from Richard Nash, 2 April 2022.
Photos: Courtesy of Richard Nash; Books On Books Collection. Permission to display from Richard Nash.

On Innards began as a multidisciplinary project to explore how the way we think of guts and digestion has changed, how that might drive the creative process, and how it affects our sense of self. Book art and the human body (interior and exterior) are no strangers. Carolee Schneemann’s Parts of a Body House Book (1972/2020), Ron King’s Turn Over Darling (1994) and Matisse’s Model (1996), Joyce Cutler Shaw’s The Anatomy Lesson: Unveiling the Fasciculus Medicinae (2004) and Casey Gardner’s Body of Inquiry: A Triptych Opening to a Corporeal Codex (2011) among others come to mind. On Innards introduces a very different level of intimacy though — one not for the squeamish or scatologically averse.

Artists Amanda Couch, Mindy Lee and Andrew Hladky initiated the the project and presented initial results in a panel held at the interdisciplinary conference “Body Horror” in Athens, in 2013. Subsequently, Richard Nash joined the project to curate an exhibition and event in 2014, which included text by Carlo Comanducci, Giskin Day, Dr. Simon Gabe, Nathaniel Storey, and Jamie Sutcliffe; performance by Kerry Gallagher; and illustration by Jenny Pengilly. Drawing together the output and record of the project, Nash created this hybrid research journal and artists’ book, launched at the Whitechapel London Art Book Fair in 2015.

Like Espace, this work displays Nash’s sculptural approach to text, graphics, ideas and the book as raw material for an artistic creation. The bookwork interweaves, concertinas, folds out, pops up, gate-folds, roll-folds and unwinds. Used to reveal reflections on the project, recalled events, artefacts, images, and stories from the conference, these various “book innards” become an embodiment of digestion. It also somewhat resembles an expandable file folder, its contents secured by a long looping slip-knotted red thread sewn through a heavy card spine pasted to red endpapers that are pasted to brown cover papers. Despite the resemblance to a landscape portfolio, the contents proceed in portrait codex fashion with the tabbed half-title “page” below. The half-title, however, is the first panel of a double-sided accordion that extends from that tabbed half-title page all the way to the last (also tabbed) page of the book (also below). When the half-title turns, it reveals a description of the contents (also below) printed on the double-sided accordion.

Landscape view of the spine and external thread binding.

Portfolio view of endpaper and half-title page. Note the glimpse in the center of the spine’s interior.

Left: The verso page or panel gives a description of the contents of the double-sided accordion.
Right: last panel of the double-sided accordion.

The valleys of the double-sided accordion hold the various other parts of the book, some of which are secured in their valleys by the red thread’s looping over and down their centers, and some of which are secured by being folded around or over the thread-secured parts. The dimensions of those parts vary, and other parts lie loose. This can lead to the guts of the book spilling out, surely not an accident! Nor is it necessarily a bad thing, for reading the other side of the accordion requires removing all of the contents from the binding.

The first interleaved artefacts and images come from Amanda Couch and Mindy Lee. Couch’s first item is a passe-partout construction displaying at the start “Organ-Offal Caecum Andouillette” (2015) and at the end “Organ-Offal Stomach-Tripe” (2015). The passe-partouts combine black-and-white photos of anatomical engravings with color photos of the gut (see above), and between them is a photo of an annotated recipe for beginner’s tripe or chitterlings. Her second item (see below) is a pamphlet entitled “Reflection on Digestion: The Mouth” (2013), recounting and illustrating a presentation/performance/tasting of a serving of tongue that Couch gave during the “Body Horror” conference.

Lee’s contributions appear (also below) on the larger pages embraced by and interleaved with Couch’s two items. The images display photographs of works entitled Better Out than In: Venus VI, IV & X (2012) and Splatter Platter (2009). In Better Out, Lee’s “canvasses” are paper plates, but the perspective from which Venus is perceived suggests the underside of a closed, soiled toilet seat.

Couch’s “Reflection on Digestion” pamphlet interleaved with photos of Lee’s Better Out than In series.

Detail from photo of Lee’s Splatter-Platter; enclosing page from Couch’s annotated and illustrated recipe for tripe.

Andrew Hladky’s contributions are prints of three-dimensional works made of oil and bamboo sticks on wood panels ranging from 3 inches to 10 inches in depth. To capture this, On Innards delivers the print of It ain’t us yet its in us. Its looking out thru our eye hoals (2015) as a pop-up box (see below), and the prints of Well, This is Goodbye (2007-15) and The Clearing (2011-14) are cut and folded such that they spill out well beyond the trim size of the portfolio (also below).

Hladky’s It ain’t us yet its in us. Its looking out thru our eye hoals (original work 12 x 18 x 10 inches). The other side of this box also bears a print of a detail view of the work.

Haldky’s Well, This is Goodbye (original work 8.5 x 10.5 x 3 inches)

Hladky’s The Clearing unfolded (original work 61.5 x 43.5 x 6.5 inches), with Giskin Day’s “End Notes” interleaved.

As mentioned, some works are loose inserts, but some of the loose inserts are folded over a panel of the core double-sided accordion. Nash uses that structural feature to emphasize one of the hallmarks of book art: self-reflexivity. Below, straddling a mountain fold in the core double-sided accordion is another double-sided accordion. On one side, there is a photo of Couch’s Entrail Troyen (2014), a three-dimensional tube knitted from leftover cured saucisson sec shredded into ribbon-like thread. The title is derived from the French sausage Andouillette de Troyes, which harks back to the pamphlet “Reflection on Digestion: The Mouth” (2013) and its andouillette and chitterlings.

In case the reader misses the connection to the earlier item, the other side of this double-sided accordion presents a condensed photo of Couch’s nine-meter long accordion book entitled Reflection on Digestion (2012), a continuous line of handwriting looping back and coiling like the villi of intestines (see the cover of On Innards), relief printed from photo polymer plates on 410 gsm white Somerset satin paper. Couch uses this work in her reading performances of the same name. (Did I mention self-reflexivity?)

Loose double-sided accordion fold item displaying Couch’s Entrail Troyen on one side and Reflection on Digestion on the other.

Continued commentary on and illustration of this addition to the Books On Books Collection would be to regurgitate the whole work, which is certainly the opposite direction the work takes and which would be unfair to the work’s artists and contributors. After all, On Innards is a limited edition, and as many copies as possible should be ingested by as many institutions possible that are intent on improving their clientele’s digestion of book art.

Signature page concluding the “bibliographical” brochure summarizing the project, sponsors, conference, Blyth Gallery event and the artists’ book in hand, providing its colophon and listing sources and works displayed; penultimate page of the core double-sided accordion.

The “fast food” version?

Further Reading

Cerith Wyn Evans“. 16 April 2020. Books On Books Collection.

Michalis Pichler“. 19 August 2020. Books On Books Collection.

Michel Lorand“. 22 December 2021. Books On Books Collection.

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