November 7, 2014—January 31, 2015
Regan Avery, Marion Belanger, David Borawski, Maria Lara-Whelpley, Richard Rose, Alison Safford, Rita Valley, Jo Yarrington, Morgan Post, Samuel Dole, Noriko Ambe, Doug Beube, Tina Blackburn, Diana Carulli, Kwang-Young Chun, Jacki Danylchuk, Paul De Guzman, Linda Ekstrom, Gregory Green, Lisa Kokin, Helmut Löhr, Joan Lyons, Momoko Koizumi, Nicole Morello, Bonnie O’Connell, Chris Perry, Susan Joy Share, Robbin Ami Silverberg, Pamela Spitzmueller, Irwin Susskind, Robert The, Beth Thielen, Heather Townsend, and Janet Zweig
CT (un)Bound presents selections from the Yale University Art Gallery’s Allan Chasanoff Book Art Collection, gathered from the 1960s to the present, alongside eight new commissions conceived and produced in 2014 for the galleries at Artspace. The historic Collection re-envisions the book as sculpture, and serves as both counterpoint and inspiration for the new works. The show’s curators selected the commissions through an Open Call, which challenged artists to submit proposals that both deconstruct the concept of the book, and take the state of Connecticut as a starting point.
In the midst of a digital era that prioritizes the speed and ease of communication, the Chasanoff Collection points to ways in which image and form can replace words and still operate fluidly as language. Objects from the Collection are strikingly physical, they privilege process and technique with an encyclopedic aplomb that Allan Chasanoff has described as “books under pressure.” The works are chopped, pounded, puréed, molded and reformed. They are baked, burned, jarred, shredded, bound, powdered, wrapped and kneaded into new solids. In fact, the Collection is so fascinated by physical treatment that the violent reanimation often renders the book’s contents illegible. As a result, the Collection may be read as a clever art historical querying of the status of a literary work that is conceptually and literally deconstructed.
The eight commissions echo the Chasanoff Collection’s examination of “the book under pressure,” responding with varying degrees of interest in maintaining a book’s integrity. Some artists explode the concept completely, presenting book-as-environment or book-as-total-surround. Others mutate the book, referencing the evaporation of literature in our Kindle and e-book era. Several take a historical approach, retaining the notion of a book as a vessel for presenting a critical argument or narrative. The commissions reference a range of sociopolitical issues specific to Connecticut, including environmental degredation and new industry. Family lineage and material lineage appear as touch points. Juxtaposed with the Chasanoff Collection, which offers a formal precedent, these new commissions come together to meditate on the evolution of the book in our time and place.
The commissioned projects are:
Regan Avery: The Groton Avery Clan. The artist’s personal family history, taken from a book of names of ancestors from Groton, is cut apart, deconstructed, and reanimated.
Marion Belanger: No Place Like Home. Photography, water analysis reports, and fish count statistics from the DEP come together in a nuanced visual essay on the life of the 40-mile Naugatuck River—the only one to begin and end in the state of Connecticut.
David Borawski: 1970 Black Panther Trial. Borawski’s project explodes the concept of media press coverage, legal text and the word of law in an immersive installation about a watershed event which continues to have resonance today.
Maria Lara-Whelpley: Connecticut Place-maps. Lara-Whelpley has created a set of hand-knit topographic textiles made of pages from geological atlases, census documents, navigational charts and other data-driven publications.
Richard Rose: To The Letter: Reading New Haven. Artist and letterpress printer Richard Rose has created an intimate, accordion-fold book that marries the digital and analog, showcasing his vast collection of images of New Haven’s signage and street typography.
Alison Safford: Handbooks from the Tool & Die Industry. Vintage tool and die handbooks spur a dialogue about the industrial manufacturing history of Connecticut, theartist’s family immigration to work within the industry, and the impossibility of “repairing” the past, either individual or collective.
Rita Valley: Better Guns n’ Gardens Magazine. Valley’s glossy publication created expressly for the exhibition probes themes of life and death, violence and rebirth, and Connecticut’s complex relationship to guns.
Jo Yarrington, Morgan Post, Samuel Dole: Containment and Spillage. This collaborative will use uranium printing to create a containment system of books to highlight the state’s problematic history of waste containment.
A special reading room at Artspace will feature contributions from Jeanne Criscola/Joan Fitzsimmons, Allison Hale, Johanna Moore/David Keef, Paulette Rosen and Aicha Woods/Cyra Levenson.
The exhibition, which represents the first formal collaboration between Artspace and Yale University Art Gallery, also features pieces by Noriko Ambe, Doug Beube, Tina Blackburn, Diana Carulli, Kwang-Young Chun, Jacki Danylchuk, Paul De Guzman, Linda Ekstrom, Gregory Green, Lisa Kokin, Helmut Löhr, Joan Lyons, Momoko Koizumi, Nicole Morello, Bonnie O’Connell, Chris Perry, Susan Joy Share, Robbin Ami Silverberg, Pamela Spitzmueller, Irwin Susskind, Robert The, Beth Thielen, Heather Townsend, and Janet Zweig from the Chasanoff Book Work Collection at Yale University Art Gallery. The show coincides with Odd Volumes: Book Arts from the Allan Chasanoff Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery. And Beyond the Codex at Yale’s Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library.