by Tejshvi Jain
Bengaluru. In today's world of e-books and e-news, to explore the traditional concept of book and its various associations are refreshing. Unbound is the result of an artists' book workshop which was held in Bengaluru. Organized by Jenny Pinto in the first week of July the workshop and exhibition did many things differently. To start with, the idea of creating an artists' book has been unexplored by Indian contemporary artists. What are artists' books one might ask? Are they books which have works of art? No! Are they an artist's record of events which are viewed as reference material? No! Artists' books according to Stephen Bury (author of Artists' Books: The Book As a Work of Art) “.... are books or book-like objects over the final appearance of which an artist has had a high degree of control; where the book is intended as a work of art in itself."
Besides the concept, the 'participants' were also an interesting mix. Along with artists practicing visual and new media arts like Surekha, Ayishya Abraham, Sheela Gowda, S.G.Vasudev, and Umesh the workshop had a fashion designer- Jason Cherian, textile designer- Jayshree Poddar, graphic designer- Sarita Sundar, designer Geetanjali Sachdeva and a few design students like Kamini Roa, Nikita Jain and Niyati Upadhya. The exhibition also had the works of the facilitators of the workshop Radha Pandey and Yasim Sethi.
Headed by Ramesh Rao and Kapil Kansel the space is minimally done and offers flexibility to restructure it as a platform to accommodate varied creative expressions.
Fashion designer Jason Cherian's fairy hive made largely of cloth and tread reels looks like a open book box exploding of textile materials of different textures and patterns wanting to jump out of the three dimensional space it is confined to.
Sarita Sunder's work literally rips the format and order in which one would read the story Alice in Wonderland. By restructuring the order of reading the book into a dress made up of banana fibre paper on a mannequin the book takes a whole different character. Another 'participant' who worked with the story of Alice in Wonderland was Yasmin Sethi. Sethi has focused on the structure and organization of the story. What looks like a typical book opens up into mini compartments, each holding a scene. It gives a glimpse of magic and excitement perhaps similar to what Alice must have felt. Sethi also explore the relationship between the reader the content.
Surekha's Pages from the Night could indicate the dark side of life which are not so often recorded on pages.
The three works of Jenny Pinto deal with histories history of society and history of war. While retaining the traditional book structure Pinto leaves marks on the pages which are made up of banana fibre.
Ayisha Abrahim's revolving book talks about the growth and its cause, effect and relationship with the environment. If one reads the printed text and newspaper photographs incorporated in the pages of the book, one is left with a mixed bag of feelings.
S.G.Vasudev's Tree Octopus was a three dimensional version of his Virksha with books hung at the end of each tentacle. These traditional format books were made out of handmade paper and were inscribed with poems of A.K. Ramanujam along with his own drawings.
Jayshree Poddar's Read had layers of paper stacked in descending order on a square base which was mounted with two big mirrors at right angle. Books which are two dimensional have three dimensional pop ups in the midst of two dimensional pages.
Umesh Kumar's Of Transaction's was a three dimensional blue and white foamed cheeseboard of what looked similar to mountain-like landforms. By using notebook pages for white and carbon sheet for blue Kumar moves from the literary associations of books to the integral part it plays in the financial aspect of society.
In Sailing Winds And Wonderlands Nikita Jain explores the structure of a book. She expands the book like a vertical scroll which leads the viewer from one scene to the other by creating strong dividers through folds.
It was the first time many of them had created an artists' book. When asked if they would like to take it further, the answer was a definite Yes. Jenny Pinto, surprised with the overwhelming response is now very encouraged to explore more on paper and artist books.