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Book Works: London, England

by Laurel Broughton


Catalogs in the mail box are like pretty girls in New York City, they come a dime a dozen flaunting their glossy wares. So when one catalog stands out from the rest, intrigued is a good word to describe how I feel. I like to think of myself as an educated consumer and the Book Works catalog is geared for the educated consumer, the reader. Beautifully printed and designed, the catalog is the perfect representation of the product; thought provoking and carefully rendered text based artists’ books. Founded in 1984 by a group of freelance printers, printmakers, and book binders as a gallery, Book Works has now moved its focus to commissioning and producing the work of artists interested in using the medium of the artists’ book.


Being a sucker for books, I immediately ordered two. The first was world-view by Emma Kay. Detailing from memory the history of the world from the Big Bang to the year 2000 in 214 pages—complete with an index, Kay has created her own revisionists’ history, and in doing so, probably pretty accurately has put her pen on the state of the human consciousness in these jumbled times. The second, called First I Was Afraid, I Was Petrified, is the account of the author, Harland Miller, discovering in the storage room of his sister’s house a shoe box full of Polaroids, all taken of the knobs on the same stove. When Miller confronts his sister about the photos, she explains that for over a year she became terrified when out that she had left the gas burners on. The situation became so inflamed that she needed to continually check that they were off before leaving the house and even resorted to returning in the middle of the day. To remedy this, she started taking a photo of the stove each time she left, so she could then, later look at it, whenever she found herself questioning whether the burners were indeed off. This narrative, accompanied by the reproductions of the Polaroids, offers the reader a first hand look at Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the nagging, constant doubt that accompanies it.


Each title is printed in a limited edition, usually of about 1500, so that feeling of the art object or multiple is not lost. The Book Works’ projects pin point and bring to the printed form original notions about Contemporary life, the day to day rituals and the debris that comes with them in unusual, subversive, and wonderful ways.


Laurel Broughton

Brooklyn, New York





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