Artists have long been exploring the interplay between text and form. Now, books — with their structure and form, rather than the text — are also being drawn into art, expanding the utility of the printed tome. The genre of art born of such an exploration, book art, is in the city for the first time. Taking a leaf from international book art fairs in Bologna in Italy, Seoul in South Korea, Satu-Mare in Romania and Maslow in Poland, the World Book Fair has laid out a book art exhibition to give to books that “imaginative edge”, with help from students of the Delhi College of Art.
Be it the five installations designed around the themes of night schools in the Capital, which use books as a source of light, or the one that recreates the Eiffel Tower in Paris with books as its base, all of them portray the utility of books in social, psychological and spiritual spaces.
“The concept is international. The idea was to make something startlingly different from books,” says Kumar Vikram, project in-charge of innovation and research of the National Book Trust. “After the Trust decided to introduce the audience in the Capital to book art last year, it went to the Delhi Art College to explain the idea.
We told them to loan us six of their best artists, who could conceive book installations on themes we had chosen,” adds Kumar, who has also curated the exhibition. The College of Art let out six young artists — Sugandha Gaur, Saroj Kumar Das, Daljeet Singh, Rinku Chauhan, Rahul Gautam and Abhijit Saikia for this purpose. “The book art show marks the transition of the fair from a bi-annual event to an annual one,” says Kumar.
An outdoor installation, Light of Life, measuring 6X6X17 ft, has also been attracting attention, as it features a pyramid of books shaped like a torchbearer. Another installation, The Imaginative School Bag — a textile and light installation — is an impression of a bag of dreams, which twinkle with glow worms and lights instead of books. “The media are standard, but the techniques vary.
Heavy books are often sculpted by scooping out pages into solid three dimensional forms, special art books with paintings and sketches compiled by artists are bound in designer covers, and books are given life with laser projections of characters or arranged in sculptural forms. Unlike in India, artists in the West are trained to treat books as objects of art. There is even a Centre for Book Art in New York,” says Kumar.