‘Be careful of books. Be careful with books. Be careful or one can become a weapon-wielder. Be careful or one can become the victim’ -Cai Guo-Qiang
Artist books are not so much books as book-like objects. They are in themselves a work of art, they come in all shapes, sizes and forms, often challenging our notions of what constitutes a book. Artists have come up with some pretty inventive ways of presenting their work, however the most bizarre I have encountered is by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang.
Cai Guo-Qiang’s Danger Book is made up of a series of drawings made using gunpowder and glue. Within the pages is attached a bundle of matches with a string that dangles out of the edge of the book, inviting the reader to pull it and in so doing ignite the book and set off the gunpowder. Thus each book is unique and comes with a kind of performance included in the price.
The video below is a documentation of the process of making a Danger Book:
Thanks to BrainPickings for sharing pieces from the book The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait. This beautiful book reveals Frida Kahlo‘s journal complete with thoughts, poems, dreams, illustrations and love letters to Diego Rivera:
Nothing compares to your hands, nothing like the green-gold of your eyes. My body is filled with you for days and days. you are the mirror of the night. the violent flash of lightning. the dampness of the earth. The hollow of your armpits is my shelter. my fingers touch your blood. All my joy is to feel life spring from your flower-fountain that mine keeps to fill all the paths of my nerves which are yours.
Jamaican writer Kei Miller talks about writing “Fiction”:
If you ask me why I write stories, or novels, or poems, I would tell you it is because things that are real in my country, things that are factual, things that have happened and that continue to happen, have always had for me the quality of the unreal –the texture of fiction. This is what happens when you live in a country that is not the centre of the world; you become blessed with a kind of double vision. You see your life from the inside, and also from the outside — both locally and globally. You are conscious always of the reality of what you are living, and also the strange narrative of it. You become conscious of how this might be observed — sometimes unlovingly and without empathy –if you do not find a way to tell it right. In a way, this is how every writer the world over lives –this quality of being inside and outside at the same time — of living a life while floating above it, observing, taking notes. Often times I find there is not need to invent or to create. There is only the need to see, and then to tell.
Extract from The Texture of Fiction, by Kei Miller. Published in Writing Down the Vision: Essays and Prophesies. 2013.
Here is a series of beautiful shoes illustrated by Andy Warhol. À la Recherche du Shoe Perdu (In Search of the Lost Shoe, 1955) is a collection of eighteen photolithographs with watercolour addition. The illustrations were a collaboration with Ralph Pomeroy who wrote the accompanying text.