artist book: a work of art realized in the form of a book
The definition may sound simple, but the world of artist books can be a bewildering place. From the familiar pairing of images and text, to sculptures created out of paper and complicated bindings that create a performance each time the book is opened, nearly anything can be called an artist book if there is intention and consideration. This series will showcase artists from different realms of the art world exploring the structure and meaning of the book.
At it’s most basic form, a book is a vehicle for delivering information; be it facts or fiction, ideas and stories are passed from author to reader through printed matter. With each turned page, the reader accumulates knowledge and moves farther into the narrative, activating the imagination and inviting the reader into the book’s world. In Your House, Olafur Eliasson has exchanged words and pictures for negative space to create his narrative.
Your House is a scale representation of Eliasson’s own home in Hellup, Denmark. Comprised of 908 laser-cut pages from CAD (Computer Aided Design) files produced by Georg Saguma, each page represents 2.2 cm of the actual house (a scale of 85:1). Flip by flip, the viewer moves through the house one layer at a time, passing through walls to reveal new rooms with the turning of a page. The paper takes on the structural aspects of this three-dimensional blueprint of Eliasson’s home, building walls, ceilings and windows but leaving out personal effects. This is not a private experience, though it is Eliasson’s private home; he has created a blank canvas on which the viewer can build their own narrative as they move through the “house,” igniting imagination and the playfulness of dollhouses from childhood while subtly referencing the passage (and possibilities) of time. His house is your house is their house—you can build whatever you like.
As the book falls open and the pages are flipped, the perspective of the space within the house changes. The natural wave of an open, traditionally bound book bends the walls and stairs in Your House, skewing perspective and opening up the rooms even more. Slowly the viewer moves towards the back of the house and eventually the interior world of the house is no longer visible; the viewer is left without an external view of the house—it’s the interior that’s important here. This large book is protecting it’s contents with anonymity; it holds the air of the house safe, and all the possibilities therein.
Olafur Eliasson attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen from 1989 to 1995. He has shown widely internationally, including at the Tate Modern Londen and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Margret Hall is a book artist and photographer living and working in Asheville, NC. Before moving to Asheville to train in book restoration (and live life in the mountains), she taught book arts at The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, where she also received her BFA in Photography with a minor in Art History and Book Arts.