2014 Lab Experiments in the ICP Library

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As you may know, I am proud that ICP Library is that it is a laboratory for experimentation, production and performance!

2014 was the fourth year that the ICP/Bard MFA students embedded in the library for a class that is an exuberant exchange of information and inspiration.

What I learned is what the MFA artists want to know and are thinking about; while they got some hints and tricks from librarianship’s bag of tricks, and, particularly, learned to target their research towards the archives, libraries and museums that will best provide for their particular discovery.

The class concluded with them performing a research query for the class and presenting a “book of books,” a snapshot of what they were currently consulting as they moved into their thesis season [now], culminating in a book and a solo exhibition.

The books of books are great windows into the intellectual gestation period of a creative endeavor. I know from experience that some of this will look like a well-ordered path to what I will see in the Long Island City studios of the MFAs starting next Thursday, and some will bear only a glancing resemblance.

The Class of 2015 really showed their intelligence and fearlessness about innovative bookmaking for this assignment. They had a free hand on format and content, and results were playful and provocative. Of course, I knew that they could do this, because they had studied with Victor Sira of Book Dummy Press the previous semester, and had made an impressive showing at their table in the September 2014 New York Art Book Fair.

Anna Ekros printed a broadside of books. You can view it below by clicking the link that says “anna.” This was a perfect response to the assignment, as they had studied books of books in our current window display Photobibliomania and its “catalog” was a broadside.

Tracie Williams presented an ersatz FBI file, with her name stenciled on the outside in humongous letters and all kinds of ephemeral “evidence” within.

Joseph Costa’s book was a spiral-bound notebook, with key bibliographic references and inspirations, and plenty of room for him to inscribe upon it as he works on his thesis [an artist book that is literally a notebook].

Stephanie Colgan, wanting to get out of the studio and make photographs, walked out around her neighborhood with a backpack of her key books and handed them out to neighbors, making portraits of them reading them.

Marisa Sottos made a catalog of the books, photographed romantically in still lives that looked like product photography, and a smaller book that was a screen grab of her music play list.

Kat Shannon, who works in the eminent bookstore, Dashwood Books, selected key works that inspired her a book that was spare and modernist.

Beau Torres and Marie Louise Omm teamed up to make a call-and-response work of inspirations that beautifully documents the way this class of artists communicates…as a stack of leaves on a clipboard.

Esther Boesche’s book was made on an ICP photocopier, on hand-trimmed 11 X 17 paper that she punched out and spiral bound by hand, each text a palimpsest on a single page composed of all of the text of the work [so articles are translucent and books mostly opaque black ink], and the title says it all: “Things I did not read in Grad School.”

Artist scholar Jess Thalman’s book was a beautiful object with poetic side-ling glances at books, tactile as thoughtfully edited as sewn.

Daniel Terna’s was playful: creating a kind of conversation between cell phone sticky notes and notebook jottings…like some of the students who have done this project, ideas and information were the material he was gathering, not actual books.

Kimberly Wade’s work had a lot of emphasis on the detective-like journeys that her MFA has taken her on, some about understanding cultural touchstones, as this one was about music. It was presented as an e-book.

I was pleased to notice how many works alluded the importance of music as a resource and inspiration. I was less surprised that films were cited, and that digital media, community and activism were at the heart of much what I saw. I was delighted how many of the students experimented with analog forms of materials: one book is a clipboard, one a folder, one notebook, etc.

For more about the ICP/Bard MFA students, check out their blog, Eye to Eye.

For more information about the ICP/Bard MFA Program, check our website.



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