Book Art Object 2. Paper Wrestling (2010)

Book Art Object is an ongoing project bringing together book artists around the world (but mostly Australia during this leg of the journey) to respond to a set text in the form of an editioned artist’s book. Each participant gets a copy of everyone’s work. This post, cross-posted with the Book Art Object blog, was written when I’d finished production on my offering.


OK, peoples, enough time has passed and no-one else has stepped forward as being part of the edition, so I will share with you my one-trick pony.



standing, back



Colophon, tucked under the red heart.

peek inside

And, when you open it all up, this is what you get:

whole sheets

Which is basically a broadside of the poem, but you have to pull the piece apart to get to it… and then (unless you want to frame the broadside), YOU HAVE TO PUT IT BACK TOGETHER.

paper folding

Here’s what I wrote in the accompanying statement/letter:


At the risk of sounding as imperious as an Old Spice ad, if you’re reading this before opening my piece, STOP RIGHT NOW.

Go and do it. Do it, and then come back here to me. Just do it.

How was that?

I worried that you’d be the wrong audience for this idea, because if you’re in Book Art Object, then you’re familiar with paper and folding. Then I realised that you’re the perfect audience – because with the BAO project we all get to actually handle each other’s work whenever we want to. So I can make a work that is intended to be wrestled with, and it won’t just be shoved into an archive box and pulled out once a decade to be displayed in a single static pose. I hope. Please handle it, and encourage others to do so, too.

I wanted, with this work, to catch that moment of dis-ease and slight panic when you’re lured or seduced into an object and then don’t know how to put it back together again. I tested it on a few punters and loved their brief panic when they realised what they’d done and shared their triumph when they succeeded in restoring it to its original shape.

So I guess for me, this work is not about the actual paper or paper quality (I had to use something sturdy and serviceable to cope with all the ink and folding) but all about process, about making and using, which is why I printed it in process colours 🙂

folded the first part


I’m pleased to report that people seemed to cope! I chose an origami shape that looked seductive and was relatively easy to undo, but had a small element of difficulty that would give someone a sense of hesitation. Including the name of the fold as I found it on the internet within the colophon also gives people a clue if they are completely stuck.

So, you see, not deep and meaningful, a true one-liner, but I’m happy with it. I learned a lot while doing it, because it took so much planning and setting (I didn’t have enough type to set the whole poem at once, so each colour is printed in three stages. You do the maths). I also used monoprinting again for the yellow texture on the outside of the piece, so each one is unique while still being part of an edition. I guess that’s called a variable edition or something.

A few more photos here.

Because there were so many risks, I printed a lot. It’s an edition of 20, so there are extras. They come with a hand-sewn paper envelope, decorated with a bit of CMY fingerpainting.

I’m still thinking hard about the Winterson piece. This work sprang almost fully-formed into my head, but the Winterson one will be a more difficult gestation.

red type forewards