Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Recommendations Guest Post #2: Sarah Bodman

Elisabeth Tonnard

Published in an edition of 28 numbered copies, 30 pages, Leerdam, The Netherlands, 2014. Inkjet printed, black and white, hand bound in a stab binding with folds on the fore edge.

Available from the publisher here.

The Dutch artist and poet Elisabeth Tonnard works with artists’ books through a combination of photography and literature. A retrospective exhibition of her books is currently on show at the Van Abbe museum in The Netherlands (Elisabeth Tonnard Artists’ Books 2003-2014) until 30th January 2015. Tonnard is well regarded for her ability to match image and text in ways that offer new perspectives on each, and I have purchased several of her books in recent years.

My holiday recommendation this year is her most recent book Wiederholungszwang:

A compulsive bookwork grounded in the drive to repeat things. ‘Wiederholungszwang’ is a term Sigmund Freud used for repetitive behaviour in which a person repeats certain traumatic events. The book is made up out of a single image, a found lantern slide, that becomes a scene of repetition when it is fragmented, folded, repeated and mirrored.

This book makes a series of adjustments in our viewing, and destabilises our perception. Through subtle shifts of viewpoint made by slight realignment, we wander tentatively through the pages, aware that the scene remains the same yet not the same. It’s similar to catching sight of something out of the corner of your eye, is it really there or just a passing shadow? The image repetition and deviation is unsettling – just as Freud theorised – what is the reason for this compulsion; why are we being shown this again, I’m really wondering now, what is in the shed? The book ends with just a fraction of the building’s structure glimpsed through trees, the “mirror structure forces a deviation from this scheme, but this deviation is at the same time to be seen as another case of repetition compulsion.” It is, as our eyes gaze up to the sky, they must also look down and, drawn to the sharp incline of the roof peaking out it’s a jolt, followed by an uneasy realisation of the need to begin the cycle again, just to check if we missed anything. It’s suitably bleak for the winter season, beautifully creepy, and top of my holiday wish list. See more images here.

Sarah is Senior Research Fellow for Artists' Books at the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), and Programme Leader for MA Multidisciplinary Printmaking at the Bower Ashton Campus, UWE Bristol, UK.

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