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Ding / Unding. The Artist’s Book Unbound

The exhibition "Ding / Unding" casts a glance at artists’ books in the Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich. In the early 1930s, the writer Bob Brown (1886–1959) confidently declared that “books are antiquated word containers” – and although he was of the opinion, even then, that books were already on the way out, rumours of the death of the medium seem to have been greatly exaggerated. In the world of art, the book has far from disappeared. Time and again, artists have challenged our ideas of what a book might comprise. Does it have to be bound? Printed? Made of paper?

Forecasts about the future of the book have long been made, and still continue. Yet the prophecy that they have become superfluous in the so-called information age has not come to fruition. Fortunately not. In the world of art, engaging with this medium in all its many forms still plays an important role. Even the most fundamental elements of a book – pages bound inside a cover – are open to question, thwarting all attempts to define the artist’s book within any kind of fixed category. This exhibition looks at the reasons why artists continue to work with the medium of the book, asks whether and to what extent they overstep its boundaries, and explores the ways in which the artist’s book can assert its place in the digital and post-digital age. Today, more than ever, books oscillate between the physically tangible and the immaterially intangible.

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