Elms Choice: Exhibition Prosthetics, by Joseph Grigely

I like artists books but don’t really know anything about them, so it is with great pleasure that I present local maven and collector Anthony Elms’ first in a regular or irregular feature of artists books suggestions. He’ll be focusing on books that are generally affordable, still in print, and available to a Chicago buyer at a local bookstore or via the web. Let Elms spend your money!

Exhibition Prosthetics by Joseph Grigely

Every now and then I teach a course, “Publications as Curatorial Practice,” and the most frustrating part of organizing the class is finding readings that don’t talk about publication projects as if artists’ books are the only solution to thinking with form. Now there is this slim volume from a lecture Joseph Grigely gave in London at the always interesting (let’s hope) Architectural Association. The book is published by the newish upstart publishing imprint Bedford Press run by the friendly graphic designer Zak Kyes (who you might also be reading).

Exhibition Prosthetics, by Joseph Grigely

Exhibition Prosthetics, by Joseph Grigely

You’ll read this book in 40 minutes, tops. And that is if you rest to take notes, or wonder why all the images are yellow. But a good and necessary quick read. It will train your eyes on the little ways that art is framed, and the peculiar, strange and necessary relationship between titles, wall labels, press releases and art works. In fact, even if I have a disagreement with the angle Grigely takes a time or two (privileging the artist a touch too much in the relationship to museum wall labels, stopping to consider press releases as artistic gestures, but not simply as press releases, etc.), the only real complaint is that the book is over too soon. So some items seem skimmed rather than developed.  Then again, it was just a lecture–with a lecture’s gentlemanly time constraints. And I must admit that I know this book is just the beginning of Joseph’s recent public grapplings with the issues. (See, for example his recent exhibition at Rowley Kennerk Gallery.) Exhibition Prosthetics is an opening volley into what are essential and complicated questions.  (Anthony Elms)

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