Friday, December 7, 2007

Sand In Der Vaseline: Kunstlerbucher II 1980-2002

For those of you interested in books about artists books, there is a German volume published by Walther Konig in 2002 called Sand In Der Vaseline: Kunstlerbucher II 1980 - 2002. This is an exhibition catalog from a show that traveled to a few venues in Germany from 2002 to 2004

From what I can see being that I do not read or speak German and it is available in only German language is that the show divides the 500 artist books from 30 different artists into six thematically arranged chapters: Introduction into thinking, Adult comedy action drama, Visible World, True stories, Becoming a landscape and Edition Separee.

Introduction into thinking is mostly dedicated to the books and catalogs of Martin Kippenberger although other artists included are: Werner Buttner, Georg Herold, Franz West, Albert Oehlen and Heimo Zobernig. It was a book by Kippenberger published in 1986 that lends the exhibition its name. Kippenberger apparently appropriated that title from an Ed Ruscha painting from 1974 called Sand in the Vaseline.

The chapter Adult Comedy Action Drama actually gives more space to Raymond Pettibon’s SST, Superflux and MDA published Xerox booklets than to Richard Prince whose 1995 SCALO book gives this chapter its name. Frankly, I can’t look at that section of Pettibon books without producing a certain amount of acid reflux as in the mid-eighties I had a whole slew of them and they are somewhere six feet down in a landfill in New Jersey. For years Pettibon’s art was used on album covers for his brother Greg Gin’s infamous Hermosa Beach hardcore band Black Flag on SST Records (Minutemen, Husker Du, Saccharine Trust). The booklets were available signed and numbered from SST mail order for about a dollar and a half each and were usually about 20+ pages of Pettibon’s disturbing psychodrama and wit. Now they command prices between 100-250 dollars each.

Visible World is more concerned with photographic artist books with examinations of Han Peter Feldmann, Martin Parr, Boris Mikhailov, Nobuyoshi Araki, Larry Clark, Fischli and Weiss, Nan Goldin, Wolfang Tillmans and Henry Bond. One of my favorites, the great Boris Mikhailov 2-volume set At Dusk and By the Ground published by Oktagon in 1996 is given a decent amount of attention.

True Stories includes books by Barbara Bloom, Sophie Calle, Jenny Holtzer, Barbara Kruger and others.

Becoming a Landscape features an unexpected mix of eclectic works by Roni Horn, Ilya Kabakov and Els Scholten.

The last chapter, Editon Seperee looks at small art book publishers such as the Eschenau Summer Press and Temporary Travelling Press publications, the Imschoot, Uitgevers publications, the Sonne Busen Hammer publications, the Fama & Fortune Bulletin publications, the Edition Separee books, and lastly publications by Agnes B.

Due to the language, the deeper discussion beyond the obvious implications due to the chapter titles escapes me so I cannot vouch for the quality of the essays that accompany each chapter. For many readers, this book will serve as an interesting checklist of the exhibition that may add several unknown books to your growing wish list. That is a warning…sort of.

Book Available Here (Sand In Der Vaseline)