Reading Art: Back Bone Books
by Andrea García Cuevas
October 1, 2015
"A book is a sequence of spaces [...] Each one of these spaces is perceived on a different time - a book is also a sequence of moments. " - Ulises Carrión
"Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Spanish Language", Emiliana Larraguibel and Claudia de la Torre, 2015.
"The Moulting Season", Claudia de la Torre, 2012.
After three years of experimentation with publishing possibilities, in 2011 the artist decided to found the independent publishing house Back Bone Books.
"O.T.", Michael Bock and Claudia de la Torre, 2013
Point Break, Maxime Gambus and Claudia de la Torre, 2014.
The result: artistic pieces that create different levels of significance.
The act of reading a work of art probably is not exercised as clearly or dramatically than when it is taken to the most obvious reading medium: the book. But in the case of an artists' book, the spine, the covers, and the pages are more than the elements of this medium. As the canvas for painting or architecture for installation, the book becomes a space built and occupied by images and words through significance.
 
At least that was how writer and quasi-artist Ulises Carrión understood it when approaching the materiality and the idea of ​​the book as an object: "A book is a sequence of spaces [...] Each one of these spaces is perceived on a different time - a book is also a sequence of moments. " These principles can be seen in some of the exercises by Claudia de la Torre (Mexico City, 1986), where paper is the main stage for visual narratives. In her books not only artistic processes are expressed, but there is also an interest in establishing different reading dynamics.
 
In the Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Spanish Language (2015), in collaboration with Claudia de la Torre, the Spanish artist Emiliana Larraguibel alters the conventional sense of a classic dictionary to establish a correspondence between the meaning of a word and its visual representation. It is not an illustrated dictionary-where image plays only a documentary function-, but a transcript  exercise where text becomes an image to trigger a reading that transcends the limits of written language. The drawings, meanwhile, break the monotony of the sequence of letters to create a composition which prevents a linear reading, common in traditional texts.
 
In this sense, the free structure of the text reaffirms the artistic character of the book while emphasizing its plastic nature more than literary. And although the experimentation of the medium is also based on the material, the arrangement of the written and visual languages ​​on the medium interferes in the behavior of our vision: if, as claimed by Carrion, the written language occupies space and reading, the time, the book as art disrupts the spatiotemporal experience that is established by the object.
 
The pieces by Back Bone Books roam this territory. For De la Torre, the interesting thing is "question the form of the book, what the object is and how it can generate something new." [1]Thus, in artists' books, images can also provide a sequence of signs different from text; as shown in The Moulting Season(2012), where a collection of photographs – arranged as collages with found objects- tell a story at different times, or Look at Me (2013), in which a series of portraits taken in different contexts and times are confronted to cause an imaginative dialogue that is only possible within the margins of the book-object space.
 
After three years of experimentation with publishing possibilities, in 2011 the artist decided to found the independent publishing house Back Bone Books to play with the form and the concept of books. Through this project, she  not only takes the conventions of text and image to their limits, but also explores other ways of distribition of the art objects: "I think a book is organized information and I consider it a visual medium in which the narrative is given by individual decisions, however, this medium may leave the traditional exhibition formats. A book can be extracted from a museum or a gallery and can be read in different ways, depending on where you find it. That's what interests me. "[2]
 
Other ways to intervene the more traditional format of publications can be observed in OT(2013), where a series of reproductions of collages by the artist Michael Block unfold in different directions for crossing the boundaries of the rectangular area and extend the dimensions of the image to other points in the space; or Point Break (2014), where the reader is invited to strip the blue pages to create a body reminiscent of the waves breaking on the shore.
 
In the production of the published books by Back Bone Books, De la Torre collaborates with different artists like Maxime Gambus, Michael Block, Loïc Blairon, Kyel Lincoln and Jörg Sobott, among others. The result: artistic pieces that create different levels of significance.
 

 

 


[1] Interview by Tamara Ibarra: http://www.claudiadelatorre.com/files/entrevistabbblaotral.pdf
[2] Ibidem