2nd Artist‘s Book Triennial Vilnius 2000

Theme: “Apocalypse”


Sabine Hoffmann, Germany

Time & Location:
2 November – 28 November 2000, Gallery “Arka”, Vilnius, Lithuania;
10 January – 3 February 2001, Gallery 5020, Salzburg, Austria.

A satellite Exhibition of the Calligraphic Artist’s Book was arranged.

Organiser of the Exhibition: Circle “Bokartas”
Curator: Kestutis Vasiliunas

In the year 2000 the “2nd International Artist‘s Book Triennial Vilnius 2000”  took place with 150 artists from 29 countries: if to mention Japan, Korea, Australia, almost all European countries, Scandinavia, the USA and Canada for example. Afterwards the triennial was moved to Salzburg, Austria.

The theme of the “2nd International Artist’s Book Triennial Vilnius 2000” was “Apocalypse”. There could be no other name to an exhibition which was happening in the interface of the centuries. At long last the interface gave the opportunity to read the “Apocalypse of John”. It is part of the Bible – a holy book for the Christians – which speaks about the end of the world. Probably not only one was surprised, at how much it resembles our times, what scares us or at least makes us reflect upon it. So, some of the artists were immersed in religious and cultural apocalyptic meditations, others went deeper into the experiences of their nation or those of “hot spots of the world”, as well as of their own or their families.

Along with the main exposition of the Triennial, a satellite exhibition of Calligraphic Artist’s Book was arranged. 17 artists from Switzerland, Spain, Hungary, Russia, Germany, Estonia, Bulgaria, the USA and Lithuania created calligraphic artist’s books on the “Apocalypse” theme.

The majority of the exhibited books are limited – edition or unique artist’s books. I think that an intimate approach to the book created by the artist’s hands but not made by a master is one of the principle features peculiar to the Triennial. The books, which witness not only their unconventional forms and conceptual solutions also, radiate a spiritual energy. Similar exhibitions held in others countries or the fairs of the artist’s books are dominated by popular writers’ books – “livre d’artiste”, perfectly well illustrated and bound, issued in a limited number of copies.

The versatility of the Triennial’s exhibits is shown by the forms of the artist’s books: books-albums, books-rolls, Chinese books, books-sculptures, books-pictures, books-objects, bibliophile books, Tibetan books, books-folders (le parello), Jewish books, calligraphic and typographic books, books-installations, video books, books-boxes, books-tunnels, etc.

All the exhibited works can be devited into two major groups. The first group included the artist’s books with a classical structure and form of the book. One can “read” them leafing the pages or by way to bending out a small “harmonica”. The majority of them are paper books (of hand-made paper), where the image (and the text) is imprinted from a wooden board, linoleum, a zinc cliché and draw in acrylic, oil or other paints. Sometimes artists employ collage or transfer the image from a computer, or exploits all the mentioned media (and not mentioned). In frequent case they have “insets” such pebbles, shells, plants, ribbons, wax and a great many of other wonderful small things.

The artist’s idea as expressed in an active form. The theme is developed on a linear principle of a growing tension or through separate propositions (questions, exclamations).

The second numerous group of books contains books-objects, where the idea of the book is retained, or the artists make use even of the book itself. However, here it is only a tool, form, material, which render the artist’s original idea. They vary from miniature books, which coil up forming a box like a tape wounds round a cassette, to books – shelves, covered by cement and weighing some 200 kg or 4 meter high books-installations. They are hanging books-chandeliers, books-doors, book-boxes, ceramic, mosaic and glass artist’s books, book-records, etc. The artists exploited the most unusual materials and their combinations with a view of making a book form more active and their idea more sharp. Such books unfold a pronounced motif of hope or decline and death put into words like a four-line verse in an easy and accurate way.

Nearly 13 artist’s books form a group which links the books of the first and second type. They are the artist’s books with “pages”, which one seems to be able to leaf. But they are made from glass, wood, iron, cord, thread, fabric or false dollars. They have neither a text nor illustrations. The artists retain the book form and flirt with an unconventional use of the material, texture, an odd “binding”, fragility and temporality. They apocalyptic idea is expressed in a sensitive and laconic way: seven wax-stamped envelopes, seven glass “filled up” pages, etc.

What brings into unity all that motley collection, those cultural pebbles of different countries? Will a theme suffice like a cord for beads to produce a marvellous string of beads – a Triennial? Is Apocalypse that medium through the meditation of which by their works the artists got united in single space? Is a theme an axis along the vertical of which moves ideas, which read an all-embracing divinity or sink into spontaneity?

Kestutis Vasiliunas

© Circle “Bokartas”, Kestutis Vasiliunas

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