Yesterday, I received the artist's books for the current exhibition at UCCA, the Los Angeles Project. The LA Project is an anthology of seven exhibitions of seven contemporary artists from Los Angeles, Kathyn Andrews, Aaron Curry, Alex Israel, Matthew Monahan, Sterling Ruby, Ryan Trecartin, and Kaari Upson.
It's interesting why the exhibition specifically focuses on the city of Los Angeles. Researching briefly about each of these artists who are specialized in wide variety of media and styles, I noticed that the only obvious thread that ties these artists together is the fact that they are all active in Los Angeles.
But the Beijing and LA are beyond different. Sunny LA and Polluted Beijing. The beaches and the... gray hutongs. There seems to be no commonality between the two cities so maybe that's why UCCA put up the exhibition in the first place.
So I received seven books in total for each of the artists in the exhibition. Originally, I thought they were normal catalogs that introduce the artworks that are put on display at the museum, but they actually turn out to be "artist's books," something I had never heard of. According to the sources on the internet, artist's books are:
I first looked at Ryan Trecartin's artist's book, "Yet." The front page of the book already is extremely intriguing, because it looks like a badly photoshopped and bordered collage of an image of space and Microsoft's WordArt that reads: "NASA says It Has Found The Most 'Earth-Like" Planet Yet." Now, I have no idea whether that is actually a title of a published article or just something Trecartin came up himself, but it's very, very intriguing..
Because I wasn't aware that an artist's book is something very, very different from an ordinary published book, I didn't know how to react at first. Not only did the book not have any text, it was filled with eccentric and somewhat trippy pictures that were just confusing. The whole book was a collage of tinted images that somehow made me extremely uncomfortable. A lot of the images were not properly shot; they were blurry, tilted, and badly cropped. And it was strange to see bad quality photos on a properly published book like this. The subjects of the photos ranged from internet users and random pedestrians to trippy patterns, article titles, and Iphone screen and so many more. There seemed to be no connection between each of the images, and it actually did make me wonder if the artist was trying to show what it is like being on drugs. What's interesting about this book, and artist's books in general, though, is that when I'm looking at it, it actually feels as if I am peeking into someone's head. It's a completely different experience than reading a book written by someone, and I would definitely consider an artist's book as more of a work of art than a book. The only thing really common between a book an artist's book is the media.
Alex Israel's book was a sticker book. His artist's book was simply called the "Sticker Book," and apparently, it is currently the most sold out of the seven books at the UCCA bookstore.
It's just a sticker book with a bunch of random stickers and a bunch of random scenes. I don't know why, but I feel like I can sometimes tell that an artist is from Los Angeles just by seeing the pastel colors and the strange juxtapositions. Their works are modern, and I guess, stylish, but they're always so obscure. It's very interesting.
But I love this idea of artist's books. It's like a form of art that the audience can easily access and/or purchase. Maybe for my next IB art piece, I can try making an artist's book- I don't know if that counts as a studio work, though.
I will be posting up my reactions for the rest of the artists' books soon! I will also be visiting the actual exhibition soon, so I'm very excited to see if the works of these artists are very similar to what I have in mind after reading the artists' books. I'm actually really curious to see what Ryan Trecartin's work is like, but it's probably very... hallucinatory.