16 June 2013

Book du jour - with thanks to Allen Ruppersberg

Allen Ruppersberg's "Never Ending Book" (2007) is part of Tate St Ives' current display. The installation gets reformatted slightly according to where it's shown -
but the components are the same - "furniture" (theatrical maquettes from the 1940s), boxes, and photocopied pages from books in his personal collection. The work on the wall is an index of what's available in the boxes. Viewers may sift through the boxes and take 5 coloured photocopies and 5 black and white photocopies, to make themselves a personal book.

The Tate website says: "Much of Ruppersberg’s production is based on ideas of multiplicity and the creation of multiples arising from the existence of an original design or idea. ... The work is emblematic of his entire practice which often situates the book, and more generally, narrative, as something capable of spatial composition and aesthetic abstraction." Ruppersberg is one of the first generation of conceptual artists - indeed, a foundational artist of West Coast conceptualism. His philosophy was to use language as a means of expression in its own right, drawing on different sections of the mass media and consumer society, engaging with language's slippage between mediums, and its situation amidst the familiarities of pop culture. His work often reanimates material from preceding generations and his own personal history.

We took a long time to choose our pages, whittling down the possibilities and/or changing our perceived themes several times.

Many of the books in his collection were published by small American presses in the 1930s and 40s, and I found many "About the Author" pages - the authors were often female, high school English teachers, poets, who grew up in small towns on the American frontier. Yet the enlarged words from some covers - so vintage! - also held appeal....

We put together the pages with a modified version of Drum Leaf Binding - ie, without the spine backing, and with a folded soft cover in a plain colour, into which the endpapers slotted.


Jane Housham said...

This is great. Would love to take part...

The Library File said...


I mentioned your blog post on my blog.

I also visited the exhibition recently and just posted my experience.

I had never visited Tate St Ives before, but read lots of negative reviews on Tripadvisor. I thought the current summer exhibition was great (particularly the work by Patrick Heron), and although I didn't take the tour there was plenty to entertain and enlighten two people for an afternoon.