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Los Angeles
Group Exhibition
MOCA Pacific Design Center
8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90069
October 19, 2008 - March 1, 2009

Artist Books
by Sasha Bergstrom-Katz


MOCA at the Pacific Design Center currently has an exhibition of artist books.  Unfortunately the books are under glass vitrines, but you CAN watch the pages turn through MOCA's website at: - a virtual read.

The exhibition features books by Sigmar Polke, Keith Haring, Olafur Eliasson, Michael Snow, Ray Johnson, Andy Warhol, Hans-Peter Feldman, Paul McCarthy/Jason Rhoades and more.  

This exhibition does point out the issue with showing artist books.  Obviously it's important to protect the book itself, so handling them cannot be an option, but placing the books under vitrines makes them into artifacts and takes away their purpose. 

The video on the website is a good attempt, but does not give the viewer the time they need to absorb the information, let alone the tactile experience that is so integral to looking at a book.  Some books in the exhibition sit at a center table where one can sit and read as well as watch the book turning on a computer, but the majority of books I was interested in were not available.

The exhibition feels like a library space and a museum of artifacts at the same time, but does not feel like an art exhibition.  The space is more stark than usual and the works don't necessarily stand out, but I cannot really offer any solutions for an exhibition of books.  I just feel that the books were not made for the purpose of sitting in vitrines.  I guess maybe they are made to be experienced only by their owner and people selected specifically by them.  It's this exclusivity that makes an exhibition like this pretty difficult.

-Sasha Bergstrom-Katz

(Images from top to bottom: Arno Hintjens, White Ass European Cowboy, Gent: Imschoot, c1999; Jorge Pardo, Jorge Pardo: MCA/MOCA catalogue, Chicago: Museum of Contemporary Art; Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1997; Sigmar Polke, Daphne, Ghent: Snoeck, 2004; installation view; All images courtesy MOCA)



Posted by Sasha Bergstrom-Katz on 1/5/09

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