Bookmarking Book Art — Large-Scale Book Art Installations (updated 20180307)

Enclosed Content Chatting Away In The Colour Invisibility, Anouk Kruithof, 2009

Anouk Kruithof’s massive wall of colored books echoes two leitmotivs in book art — the installation and the presumed disappearance of the book in the onslaught of digital media. Reminiscent of pixels on the computer screen, the work is entitled Enclosed Content Chatting Away In The Colour Invisibility and consists of over 3,500 books rescued from the recycling dump and whose arrangement varies with each installation.  Kruithof has stated that she seeks to “invent new things out of fragments of the past.’

Biografias, Alicia Martín,
2005, site specific installation, Casa de America, Madrid

Alicia Martín’s installation, called Biografias, has appeared in Madrid, The Hague, Cordoba, Linz and Valencia.   The torrent of defenestrated books is made of over 5,000 titles fixed to a wire frame.  

Alicia Martin “absorbed” by her work

Matej Kren is another book installation artist, whose thoughtful, towering installations have been featured in Prague and numerous other cities in this hemisphere.

Book Cell, Matej Kren, 2006, Centro de Arte Moderna – Foundation Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal

Although Brian Goggin does not use actual books as his material, his works in bronze, polycarbonate, steel and LED prompt reflections on books, language, the transmission of ideas, permanence and impermanence.

Speechless, Brian Goggin, 2008-2009
Bronze, site-specific installation
Lafayette Library, Lafayette, California

Looking back to the late 19th century, you will find that Myanmar can lay claim to the world’s largest book.

Atthakatha Slabs, Sandamuni (1867/1913)
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
Dhammapada Page 1/4, Kuthodaw (1868)
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

For other large-scale book art installations and why they might be enjoyable, take a look here.


Bookmarking Book Art – Vita Wells, Updated 11 February 2014

Wells %22Flights of Mind%22From 3 February to 20 March 2014, Vita Wells (born Béa Welsh Weicker) has a new “Flights of Mind” installation. A year ago, she had placed an installation of the “Flights of Mind” at the Berkeley Central Library, the first being in 2012 at the Oakopolis Gallery in Oakland, California.

Wells Flights of Mind BerkeleyFollowing the Berkeley installation, the following was posted on BooksOnBooks:

Appropriately, this latest installation was for the “11th Annual Authors Dinner,” sponsored by the Berkeley Public Library Foundation.  Soaring forty feet above the patrons’ heads were hundreds of altered discarded books, their covers spread into wingspans, their pages folded into rounded bird bellies and each book suspended on cables from the ceiling at varying pitches,  yaws and distances from one another.   They are no longer there, nor at the Oakopolis.  By the installation’s name, they should now exist only in the mind, but the artist provides an extensive online “installation” with numerous pictures and videos, an essay on her intent and a detailed description of the installation’s physical characteristics.

It is delightful to have access to the online version, and we may fool ourselves into thinking of it as virtual.  Even the digital is subject to forensics.  Still, although Wells may well take down the online installation, or its URL may be hijacked or fall into 404-dom, it is not temporary in the sense that its instances in Berkeley and Oakland were.  So does its presence challenge the integrity of those temporary installations?

Almost a century ago now, Yeats wrote of the swans’ “bell-beat” of wings overhead at Coole, and that poem entered the world of lasting works of art.  It has its many physical instantiations in books the world over.  It lives in recordings.  It lives on the Web.  It lives in countless minds ready to recite it.  Of course, the books will rot, the recordings and sites decay, the minds fall into silence.  Yet in the presence of thought become art, soaring overhead, we dare to dream of persistence even in the face of such imperfections as Wells’ “worn, frayed, … beat-up and patched” birdbooks or the challenge of the age of digital reproduction to the integrity of art.

… now they drift on the still water

Mysterious, beautiful;

Among what rushes will they build,

By what lake’s edge or pool

Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day

To find they have flown away?

Vita Wells’ art feeds the dream.

Related publication

Tracey Taylor, “Berkeley artist Vita Wells makes books fly at main library”, Berkeleyside, 11 February 2013, accessed 11 February 2014: