Susan Johanknecht

Introduction to Bookarts Feature


Generally viewed as containers for text, books are less often discussed as sites where innovative writing processes take place. As text settles comfortably into the virtual format, are there still situations where the constraints/possibilities of the material codex; fixed gutters, margins, the pause of page-turning, are intrinsic to the writing process? Moving beyond the space of the page, how does writing practice explore the space of the book as a whole? Artists' books in the Ed Ruscha photo sequence tradition are visually striking in a vitrine and easy to peruse in a gallery, whereas textual works in the Mallarmé tradition fall into an art/literature gap-space, working harder to find a receptive audience. Although significantly addressed in the writings of Johanna Drucker, these works are also likely to be ignored in textually conventional critical spaces.

In the following selection of work; Sarah Jacobs "makes a book of her mother to acknowledge her weight and the gravity with which I treat my memories", Lin Charlston considers scientist's notebooks as formats for observation and thought, AC Berkheiser shadows one text with another as deteriorating phrases mimic the effects of Alzheimer's disease and Sharon Kivland articulates Georgia--one of the preferred type-faces of HOW2--as font, voice and material. Heather Weston works with the book as a fourth dimensional reading space, Emily Artinian uses book conventions as tools for literary criticism and Anna Trethewey considers book form in relation to content. Finally I recount a journey through London in search of the symbolic book.


Susan Johanknecht is an artist and writer who works under the imprint of Gefn Press. Recent books include Modern (Laundry) Production and Subsequent Drainage on Folding Rocks. She is currently Subject Leader of MA Book Arts at Camberwell College of Arts. Her forthcoming project, Cunning Chapters, co- curated with Katharine Meynell, will be launched at the British Library in 2007.

Table of Contents