Sunday, December 2, 2007

Kunsthaefte 1 - 14 by Jesper Fabricius

Around the time of the Printed Matter Art Book Fair this past summer I mentioned buying a set of books from a Danish artist named Jesper Fabricius. Jesper publishes small handmade artist booklets that range from 8 pages to 20 pages in length under the imprint Space Poetry. One ongoing series of books called Kunsthaefte is currently 14 books strong and counting (I assume there will be more).

Using snippets from existing printed images from magazines he emphasizes relationships of color and texture while giving hints to the original image’s content. For instance, many of the crudely cut snippets seem to have derived from porn magazines or books published in the late 1970’s and 1980’s so after Jesper’s scissors are through, an image might draw your attention incidental details like to part of someone’s face and a painting hanging on the wall behind them instead of the act of sex.

Kunsthaefte nr. 1 was published in 1998 is the largest in trim size of all of the Kunsthaefte series at 8 by 11 ½ inches and contains 8 pages of images in stapled folios. The images use multiple pieces of cutouts placed on the page to create more of a sense of collage than most of the other books have.

Kunsthaefte nr. 2 was published two years later in 2000 and here the trim size has been dramatically reduced to a petite 4 by 5 inches which is the smallest of the entire series. Here the content is abstracted to the point of being a kin to abstract painting. Only rarely does the viewer have enough information of the object the patterns and color were taken from to identify what it is. This is the first of the books that is several folios sewn together in a simple figure 8 stitch as a binding.

Kunsthaefte nr. 3 was published in 2002 is slightly larger in size at 4 by 5 ½ inches and this seems to be the standard for the rest of the series with only a couple exceptions. The content is arrangements of cutout speech balloons. I wish I knew what they say.

Kunsthaefte nr. 4 published in 2002 is one of the shortest at only 8 pages and four images. The content is close up cutouts of a woman or a couple women alternated with two images of a girls hair parted with blue ribbons.

Kunsthaefte nr. 5 published in 2002 is also a short one of 8 pages of women’s breasts.

Kunsthaefte nr. 6 published in 2006 is 12 pages drawing our attention to flower arrangements and plants.

Kunsthaefte nr. 7 published in 2002 is 12 pages of abstracted background patterns some with printed flowers.

Kunsthaefte nr. 8 published in 2003 is a larger booklet of 16 pages at a trim size of 5 ½ by 8 ½ inches. The content is more like nr. 1 with its multiple image collage. Each page has a different background color so the emphasis seems to be on the entire composition of the page rather than on the individual image like in numbers 2 - 7.

Kunsthaefte nr. 9 published in 2004 reverts back to the 4 by 5 ½ inch trim size and it is the first of a few that are sexually explicit in subject matter. Here we are bombarded with creative image grids of close ups of genitalia and intertwined bodies that are bizarre, surreal and often very grotesque.

Kunsthaefte nr. 10 published in 2004 draws our attention to the paintings hanging on the walls just above the faces and tops of heads of people presumably having sex.

Kunsthaefte nr. 11 published in 2007 is 12 pages of photos of vaginas arranged in grids.

Kunsthaefte nr. 12 published in 2007 is 16 pages of photos of penises arranged in grids.

Kunsthaefte nr. 13 published in 2007 is 20 pages of people’s heads. This is an interesting one as the individual pictures are common daily expressions except you notice that some (maybe all) are taken from images of people’s faces while engaged in sex.

Kunsthaefte nr. 14 is 12 pages of individual images of women’s breasts and torsos bound by different configurations of rope.

I like these books for their ready-made and casual look. They probably are labored over by Jesper in their creation but they have an un-precious and disposable feel that suits the imagery. Jesper is one of many artists that uses material at his disposal to re-contexualize the image and divert our attention away from the original intention. As we look, he may be challenging us to pull our mind away from its primal instinct of voyeurism and push our thoughts elsewhere. As we try to evaluate each photo as a new work of art that is complete in its own way, our imaginations and instinct try to expand those boundaries far past what he has presented. This tug and pull is what makes many of these booklets interesting.

The books are occasionally available through Printed Matter in New York City or through the website. Space Poetry. Printed Matter sells most of the recent booklets for around $4.00 US.