The Book as Stage, the latest exhibition at the Yale Haas Arts Library, features artist books. Artist books use books as the form and can vary wildly depending on the artist’s vision. This show focuses on theater and theatrical presentations using the book arts.
So much fun are the books that look like stage sets in miniature or mock ups for the real thing. Here’s the tunnel book format, with pages layered so we’re tricked into seeing depth.
Look at how this accordion-pleated book creates a construction site stage set, fronted with a nude in contrapposto. Weird and fun juxtaposition.
What you see in the back of the below image is the mirror reflection of the book. Notice the complicated intersections and weavings of strings. Aren’t the doorways of this sculptural book appealing? We can walk right into a Medieval world and join in with the characters.
The book is meant to be architectural, just as during the Medieval period, interest in Gothic architecture peaked (all puns intended). Susan Collard, the artist, purposefully included women in contemplation and learning, arenas occupied by men at the time.
This book focuses on the theater of war. It opens up to create the stage set, as you see. The pages are cut out to create theater scrims, layering the space. Newspaper clips and maps are collaged in, focusing on Middle East conflicts.
Of course, what I see is the tie-in to the flag and American imagery. And I think of the Southern Connecticut State University students in my class “Shaping the American Identity.” Each made a page, mostly collaged, about their understanding of American identity at the end of the semester. The pages were then assembled into a class artist book. It was a powerful experience for us all, coming after their first election.
Their energy, passion, and political intelligence is an inspiration, as powerful as any of these professional artists.