Eighteen of the foremost international book artists from 10 countries are represented in CIBA. The setting in the intimate and legendary Casa de Santa Maria is original and surprisingly right for these works of art, with its blue and white XVII Century Portuguese tiled walls and coffered, painted ceilings.
The upstairs pieces are sculptural and witty, and were brilliantly selected to display the wide range of this art form. Mandy Gunn and Brian Dettmer skillfully deconstructed their country’s main reference dictionary into sculptural introspection. Connie Michele Morey, Sarah Bodman and Cor Aerssens produced intriguing, voyeuristic works that invite the viewer to direct interaction. Amandine Nabarra-Piomelli and Barbara Mauriello brilliantly deal with the essence of travel. Barbara Johnston’s biblical observation, Temptation, Sue Doggett’s clever statement on early feminism, Spiritualists and Suffragettes, and Raquel de Prada’s political comment on the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Papel Mojado, are humorous and accomplished. Celeste Maia’s celebration of survivors of the 2004 tsunami, Resistance, is exquisite and chilling.
With the exception of two of the 18 books in the international show, they were all produced recently, in 2014-2015, and have the freshness of new thinking about artist books.
Downstairs are six books from Portugal, shown under glass, with a more traditional approach than the works upstairs. Four are from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Two are more modern works. Helder Gorjão’s subtle piece characterizes the book as object and Urbano’s Venice Diary makes the viewer want to finger his entries. These books are largely a disconnect with the upstairs works. CIBA would have gained a great deal with one show, rather than two separate ones.
The online catalog of the show is on the Foundation’s website, www.fundacaodomluis.pt