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Nina Katchadourian’s Book Spine Poetry

By Harriet Staff

You might know artist Nina Katchadourian or remember her airport-bathroom Flemish portraiture. Now she’s gone and “mastered the art of Book Spine Poetry,” says Art Fag City. More:

A relatively simple exercise, it works like this: take a titled book, place another titled book underneath it, and continue to do so until you make a verse that can be read from top to bottom. The result is a series of art dork in-jokes, subtle social commentaries, and witty one-liners.

Since 1993, Katchadourian has sifted through titles in private homes and public collections, compiling and photographing 130 book stacks, which examine the given collection’s inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies. “Picasso at 90”, “The Ubiquitous Pig”, “Living Well”, “Gold & Silver”, and “Good Dames” from the Special Collections Revisited series is a special winner in our books. Kudos to Katchadourian for successfully damning Picasso for his womanizing ways, and life of excess.

There are also some great titles in the Akron Stacks Series, with stacks that criticise vacant art-world glamour. An example reads: “Business in the Arts” “The Arts Scene” “The Dinner Party” “The Collection” “The Absolute Bourgeois” “Public Relations” “Grapevine”. Katchadourian’s subtle dig at the Art Market PR gossip-jungle is timely with this month’s premiere of Gallery Girls.

Nina Katchadourian is currently exhibiting at the Delaware Art Museum with Once Upon A Time in Delaware/In Quest Of The Perfect Book, the artist’s latest book-spine collection in the Sorted Books project. From the Delaware Art Museum Library’s M. G. Sawyer Collection of Decorative Bindings, a collection of over 2,000 books acquired for their cover design, Katchadourian compiles stacks using the aesthetics of the book cover, as well as titles.

Next year, Chronicle Books will publish a book examining the last 20 years of the Sorted Books project.

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Posted in Poetry News on Friday, August 3rd, 2012 by Harriet Staff.