Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spring News


New Books

Material Meditation on Mending Al Mutanabbi Street

On March 5 in 2007, a car bomb was exploded on al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, a mixed Shia-Sunni area and the heart and soul of the city’s literary and intellectual community. More than 30 people were killed and more than 100 wounded. Al-Mutanabbi Street is the historic center of Baghdad bookselling with bookstores, outdoor bookstalls, cafes, stationery, tea and tobacco shops. The al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition issued a challenge internationally for book artists to “re-assemble” some of the “inventory” of the reading material that was lost in the car bombing, honoring al-Mutanabbi Street by creating work that holds the memory and future of what was lost that day. 

My contribution to the project, Material Meditation on Mending Al Mutanabbi Street, consists of fifteen two-sided loose-leaf prints made from collages constructed from remnants of found books, rubbings from book bindings and photographs. The leaves are gathered into a tar paper folder like pages picked up in the street and slipped into a convenient sheath. It is a meditation in that I can only imagine the physical sense of being in a war, of having life change in the blink of an eye, of losing neighbors, community, income, and intellectual nutriment in a bombing. 

The elements of this book are fragments assembled with staples, tapes, and glue. It speaks to the reconstruction of life, literature and culture; of memory suspended, disjointed and reassembled into some sense, albeit of an altered whole. It is also a metaphor for the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition, whose projects brings poets, printers, artists, curators and readers together to pose questions, lend support to one another and bring grace back to all our Al-Mutanabbi streets. 


Google Vanitas

Autobiography #7

The word vanitas is Latin meaning “emptiness” and loosely translated corresponds to the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transient nature of vanity. Paintings executed in the vanitas style are meant as a reminder of the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death. They also provided a moral justification for many paintings of attractive objects. (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Google Vanitas is part of my ongoing series of autobiographies drawn from collections of personal ephemera — my own personal paper trail. The internet is a new frontier for obsessive information gathering and infinitely easier to mine than metal cabinets filled with dusty files.  
Google Vanitas contains image search results for “scott mccarney” found on December 25, 2011. Each printed page represents a screen capture containing pictures that reference the artist up to the point where no direct references were found on a screen. 


Coming to Terms: An Abecedarium

A final resolution of this work, which has been shape-shifting ever since it's inception in 1999. I created an "abridged" edition for Contact Sheet 164 (the catalogue for my bookworks exhibition at Light Work last fall) which put it back on the radar. Each page spread is an individual folio bound in a Japanese double-album style, related to the "board books" we read as kids. 

From the colophon: 

The text appropriated for Coming to Terms is a lexicon of psychological terms entitled Psychiatric Word Book: A lexicon of terms employed in psychiatry and psychoanalysis designed for students of medicine and nursing and psychiatric social workers by Richard H. Hutchings M.D., D.Sc. published by The State Hospitals Press, Utica NY, in 1943. Its lengthy title belies its unassuming size (9 x 13.5 cm) but clearly describes the dictionary within. The vocabulary reflects the influence of Freudian theory on the field at that time, especially in the understanding of human sexuality. 

The portraits of me imbedded in the page spreads are matched to terms that appear imposed over my eyes. The terms have resonance to the time, place, posture or surface of the photographic portrait. I may seem to be looking through the terms, or the terms may seem to blacken my eyes. This melding of language and image is part of the ongoing autobiography project, reflecting the shifting views that culture and science have on the construction of personhood.

Exhibition / May 18 - July 9, 2012

Reversing the Catastrophe of Fixed Meaning: 
The bookworks of Scott McCarney
Curated by Cyril Reade

May 18–July 9, 2012
Visual Studies Workshop Bookstore and Gallery (enter at 31 Prince Street) 
Opening reception: Friday, May 18, 6-9 pm
Regular Gallery Hours: Thursdays 5–8pm, Saturdays–Sundays, 12–5pm and by appointment

For more info click here.

This exhibition has been supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts Visual Arts Program.

Reversing the Catastrophe of Fixed Meaning: The Bookworks of Scott McCarney is presented in conjunction with the Photo-Bookworks Symposium at VSW from June 28-30, 2012. McCarney and guest curator Cyril Reade will be in conversation as part of the symposium on June 28 at 7pm in VSW’s auditorium.
For more info click here.

Workshop / May 23 - June 15, 2012

Artists' Books with Keith Smith and Scott McCarney,
State Library of Queensland

Keith and I have been invited by the State Library of Queensland to lecture and teach in Brisbane, Australia. Some info about the workshop here, and our talk here.

Workshop / June 25-27, 2012

Bookbinding in the Age of Digital Production
A three day workshop concentrating on binding solutions inspired by digital print production. An offering of Visual Studies Workshop's Summer Institute. More info here.

Exhibition / Through August 17, 2012

Springing to Life: Movable Books & Mechanical Devices
Rare Books and Special Collections Department
Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester

One of the nice things about putting books out in the world is you never know where they may pop-up. A copy of "Alphabook 3" is included in this exhibit, curated by Leah Hamilton, which features more than 50 examples of pop-up books, bibliographic mechanisms, and amazing feats of paper engineering. The exhibit continues through August 17, 2012 and can be viewed Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. More info here.