Please send 40 sheets of printed toilet tissue...
Collaborative "mail art"
6 December 2011
WIPE Light-Weight Bookwork Please send 40 sheets of printed toilet tissue. Open theme and technique, rubber-stamp, etc. No organic materials or traces please. On going project, no deadline. Edition made every 20 participants. Copy of edition sent to all taking part. Max size: 14cm x 11cm. Send to: Field Study, P.O. Box 1838 Geelong, VIC 3220 Australia So reads the callout for Wipe, a zine assembled by David Dellafiora of Field Study International, a global network of Fluxus-inspired artists/participants who collaborate via mail art to produce a range of artists’ books. Responding to callouts such as that above, people from around the world submit multiples of their works to be included in a range of eclectic publications. Wipe has recently made it as far as the V&A in London, where it was displayed along with other works by Field Study International (see also our previous post on the zine 'Kart', another production by Field Study). Little wonder, as the artists’ books in the Wipe series contain a fascinating (and very delicate) array of rubber stamp designs printed on toilet paper. News of this international project certainly reached Canberra – issue no. 21 contains a leaf of toilet paper from none other than the National Library of Australia!
Wipe is a good example of how many items within the Nick Henderson Zine Collection occupy both the ‘zine’ and ‘artists’ book’ genre – what’s the difference? Good question! There are many similarities between artists’ books and zines – yet they are also considered to be quite different. Artists’ books are books (or even book-like objects) produced by an artist – often collaboratively – who exercises a high degree of creative control over the content and production of the work. An artists’ book alters, adopts or experiments with the physical and conceptual properties of the book form as a means of artistic expression, integrating elements such as text, image, material and format to produce what is essentially a work of art in itself. Zines are often called artists’ books. Although there are many common elements between zines and artists’ books in terms of their production and distribution methods, zines stand out due to the unique culture surrounding their creation. Zines are self-published, self-distributed publications belonging to a thriving sub-culture dedicated to underground alternatives to mainstream publishing. Artist’s books also incorporate the concept of democratic publishing, methods of hand-creation, and self-distribution – however, they lack the distinct culture that zinesters have created. Zines are often more personal publications, whilst artists’ books tend to exist in a more artistic (rather than literary or social) context. Wipe for example, is referred to as an artists’ book by its creator David Dellafiora, and like all Field Study publications, is influenced by Fluxus, Surrealist and Mail Art movements.
As you can see, there are many close similarities between the two – which is why we are completely happy to catalogue many artists’ books as part of our Nick Henderson Zine Collection! The National Library collects many examples of Australian artists’ books by notable book artists. So instead of heading to the art gallery on a rainy weekend, why not browse our catalogue and traipse on over to the NLA Reading Room instead?