Boo-Hooray gallery’s Johan Kugelberg and Jeremy Sanders (of 6 Decades Books) have joined forces to curate Boo-Hooray’s latest exhibition: Artists’ Book Not Artists’ Book, which includes a whimsical selection of works by the likes of John Baldessari,
Boo-Hooray gallery’s Johan Kugelberg and Jeremy Sanders (of 6 Decades Books) have joined forces to curate Boo-Hooray’s latest exhibition Artists’ Book Not Artists’ Book, which includes a whimsical selection of works by artists including John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Richard Prince, William Gibson and Richard Hell.
The two men, both book fanatics (Sanders is a respected artists’ book dealer, Kugelberg an author and avid book collector), decided it was time to challenge the narrow and prescribed definitions so prevalent in modern-day culture by putting audiences to the test. The question: how does one tell the difference between what is and what isn’t an "artists’ book"? On the somewhat convoluted assembling of the exhibition, Kugelberg divulged, “[Jeremy] has curated the artists’ books in this show, and I’ve curated the not artists’ books. But alas! Sometimes I’ve curated the ‘artists’ books,’ and sometimes Jeremy has curated the ‘not artists’ books’. Presto chango!”
Upon entry to the display, visitors are given a card with tickboxes to fill in as they walk around, inciting them to guess into which of the two pre-determined categories each book falls. Those who guess correctly win a dollar but as of yet no one, not even a hired expert ("the guy in the gorilla suit"), has got it right. This goes to prove the curator duo's point; that try as we might to define what things "are" and "aren't", upon exploring the issue, what is "right" becomes increasingly open-ended: “We wanted to ask questions around intent, questions around how we view intent. The relationship between the work and the creator of the work. What is important: The singer? The song? The person who hears the song? None of the above?”
In these, the final days of the exhibition, we talk to Kugelberg about what makes for an exciting exhibition and his current favourite books.
How would you define an artist?
Someone who strives for love in a dream.
Who's your favourite artist?
Old: Vermeer. New: Gee Vaucher.
What’s the first thing you think about when curating an exhibition?
How to communicate with the visitor: how to try to make them leave as psyched and inspired as possible.
"The first thing I think about when curating an exhibition is how to communicate with the visitor: how to try to make them leave as psyched and inspired as possible"
What makes a good exhibition?
Feeling like you are walking on air when you leave, when you can't wait to tell people about what you saw, when you can't wait to create situations of your own, driven by how inspired you got.
What have you got planned for future exhibitions?
All kinds of great stuff! Including a homage/overview of Ed Sanders’ 1962 – 1965 mimeo publication Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts in February, a huge Larry Clark exhibit in September, and then a three month collaboration with the mighty Jonas Mekas showcasing the work and lives of Barbara Rubin, Piero Heliczer and Jack Smith.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
Keegan Cooke baking pretzels at the opening for the Ed Sanders show.
What book you working on next?
A swash-buckling and irresponsible novel for 10 – 13-year-olds. Almost done.
What or who inspires you?
The wife and kids and Raoul Vaneigem.
What is your motto for life?
Thomas Browne says, “Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us”.
Artists' Book Not Artists' Book is at the Boo-Hooray Galley, New York until Sunday February 12.
Text by Daisy Woodward