Pieces of paper laid out on the floor on top of each other.

Past exhibition

Artists making books
poetry to politics

Exhibition /

Past exhibition

27 October 2022 – 18 February 2024

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Whether subverting, inverting, celebrating or exploding – this intriguing show explored the history of artists taking on the medium of books.

In the hands of artists and poets, books have been taking a radically different form since the advent of the artist's book in Paris in the early 20th century. Appearing in a variety of shapes and sizes, as one-offs or small print editions, books offer artists and poets a novel form of expression – in the words of Indian artist Nalini Malani the book is 'a carrier of experience', in which whole worlds are encapsulated.

In this small yet powerful display, works made by artists from New York to Damascus and beyond highlighted the relationship between artists and poets and the influences that inform their work, from family to politics and everything in between: Lebanese artist Abed Al Kadiri (b. 1984) conceived his book during the first month of the pandemic to explore his family history, while through the eyes of Iraqi artist Kareem Risan (b. 1960) we saw the shocking aftermath of a deadly explosion on the streets of Baghdad in 2005.  

Also inspirational to artists is classical poetry and literature: the mystic poetry of medieval Persian poets Jalal al-Din Rumi and Hafez, as well as the tales of the Arabian Nights, all found expression in the works in the exhibition.