Perverse Volumes: Bad Books and Uncontrolled Practices

Wed 4/10/2024 • 10AM - 11AM PDT

Charles E. Young Research Library, Main Conference Room, 11360

Copresented by the UCLA Library and the Getty Research Institute and funded by the Kress Foundation.

Speaker: Johanna Drucker, Breslauer professor of bibliographical studies, Dept. of Information Studies, UCLA

The question of how to define an artist’s book has provoked endless debate since the appearance of conceptual works in the 1960s attempted to establish an authoritative claim over the term. But artists who make books work in many traditions with histories that stretch back into antiquity and across every culture on the globe. In contemporary practices, neither production standards nor critical gatekeeping limit the boundaries of collected items, and the range of problems posed by the lifecycle of these objects is equally multifaceted—and multifarious. Some critical understanding of the field in its multiple dimensions is useful in considering the care these works require. The issues are particularly challenging for works whose material form makes them volatile or transient—or which are deliberately conceived from the outset as unstable.

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