Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Art of Small Books......

Here is something close to my heart!

Soho Photo Gallery, New York, presents a guest exhibition with Aperture Foundation on the art of making small books, exploring the intimacy gained from a journal-sized format. Like novels or short-story collections, these books are meant for the reader to interact with, not simply to be viewed or put on display. The art of making small books frequently begins with an act of diplomacy: that of convincing the artist involved that small can be beautiful, too. While there is much to be gained from trading the larger reproduction size of an over-sized book for a smaller-scale presentation, photographers who are accustomed to working with large-sized prints can be especially loathe to give up on scale as a way of presenting their work. The traditional publishing logic about smaller-size books has tended to revolve around practicality and affordability—the Aperture Masters of Photography series, for example, originally created in the 1970s in collaboration with the French publisher Robert Delpire, was intended as an affordable means of bringing photography to the masses. When Aperture embarked on the Midwest Photographers Publication Project, a series of books intending to introduce emerging photographers from the Midwest to a larger audience, the format was borrowed as a nod to that original intention. Increasingly, of course, with photographers oriented less toward giant-sized prints and more toward the book as the final form for their work, there seems to be a further interest in keeping things small, for both practical and conceptual reasons. Several of the books included in this show take their form as a result of the artist coming to the table with a concept that hinges on the ability of the finished work to "pass" as, or at least refer to—something other than your typical coffee-table book: Christian Marclay's Shuffle, which takes on the guise of a deck of cards; Takashi Homma's Tokyo, the form of which gives a nod to the Penguin Classic pocket-size novel; Stanley Greene's Black Passport, with its rounded corners and reference to the classic travel document. Even Martin and Munoz's Travelers is kept within the confines of typical snow-globe scale. Most especially, what is to be gained from the smaller-size book is the intimacy that comes from the journal-sized format, which carries with it reference to both the personal diary and the classic literary form of a novel or a collection of short stories, intended to be read or interacted with by the reader, not simply viewed and put on display.

The Art of Small Books, Opening reception: Thursday, February 9, 2012, 6:00–8:00 pm
Exhibition on view: Wednesday, February 8, 2012–Saturday, March 3, 2012

Soho Photo Gallery, 15 White Street, New York, New York, (212)226-8571

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