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Penelope Davis
Column 2008
type C photograph
Reproduced courtesy of the artist


Ex libris—the book in contemporary art

22 February to 25 May 2014

While not as ancient as writing itself, printed books have an extensive history in their own right as well as an immense authority as objects: they have long been associated with the peaks of creativity, imagination and human endeavour. In addition to the ideas, information and narratives they contain, the tactility of books—their weight, texture and smell, as well as the experience of leafing through pages—elicits a strong sense of nostalgia and sensory pleasure.

At a time when the relevance and future of the printed book is often called into question by developments in the digital realm, artists are increasingly engaging with the physical form of publications. Ex libris—the book in contemporary art brings together new and existing works by eight such artists—Chris Bond, Penelope Davis, Danny Digby, Nicholas Jones, Aliza Levi, Tom Nicholson, Patrick Pound, and Kylie Stillman—each of whom manipulates the book form, re-purposing, re-interpreting and investing new life into mostly old and second-hand volumes or titles whose popularity may have waned.