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The Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection
Joan Flasch 的藝術家之書收藏
  1. What is the difference between the practice of Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection and the ordinary library? How do you categorize and preserve your collections?

    The main library collects books ABOUT art, whereas we collect publications (of all media and formats) that ARE art in and of themselves. We don’t categorize between individual formats within these artists’ publication but catalog them all in the same database and also house and show them together, whether they are material in book form, a pamphlet, a magazine or newspaper, a broadside or poster, a sound or video work, or ephemera, etc. We try to preserve them in that we ask users to wash their hands prior to viewing/reading them, and the material doesn’t circulate.

    Due to the nature of the work we collect, patrons cannot take books home with them. However, to make up for this, we try to provide as much access as possible. Instead of physical browsing the cabinets and shelves, people can search our online (very detailed and visual) catalog by title, artist, and thematic keywords as well as information on how the book was made, what materials it was made with, and other descriptors. Because we are situated within the school, we always have students who will drop in and ask questions like “I’m working on a project that involves ___________ and I’m interested in using ___________ material, what do you suggest I look at?” This type of cataloging system allows us to best answer these sorts of questions, by showing people things that relate to their interests, but which they might not have known existed.

    Often you will see some of the same work we have in the collection on display in museum vitrines – we take the opposite approach. All of our patrons, whether they are from inside or outside the institution, can walk in during open hours and handle work from the collection, as long as they wash their hands (no white gloves necessary). We do have some works that require a little advanced notice to view, but even these are available to anyone. Because we are so hands-on, we have to accept some regular wear and tear. However, we believe this is necessary if the work is to be handled the way the artists intended – if the work needed to stay out of arm’s reach, the artist would have made a painting or sculpture. We want the books to be used, and eventually some of them will be used up, but until then they’ll have inspired many people to think creatively in their own ways.

  2. What are some of the restrictions or regulations of the use? For instance, is the user allowed to take photo or make a photocopy of the artist’s book?

    As mentioned above, our basic rules of handling are that patrons wash their hands, leave their belongings at the front of the room, and use only pencil and loose sheets of paper when handling work from the collection. This may seem like a lot to some, but it’s very minimal when you look at most artists’ book collections & special collections. We do allow visitors to take low-resolution photos of the work (usually with a cell phone) for their own research purposes. No matter what the reproduction method is, we never allow anyone to reproduce a work in its entirety, or in any way that would compromise the artist. We don’t make photocopies of the works.

  3. Who are frequent visitors to the collection?

    Students within the school and the surrounding institutions or the entire US, visitors from near and far, the general public, researchers, anyone who wants to. We also host readings, lectures, workshops, group meetings, we go out into the community with a suitcase or two of materials, to get to retirement centers, public high schools, community spaces and non-profit galleries.

  4. The Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection houses over 7,000 artists’ publications. What principles guide your collecting?

    Our definition of artists’ books is perhaps broader than most others, and certainly not limited to any subgroup of what we think artists’ publications are. We hold hand-made one-of-a-kind items and offset printed work in unlimited editions. We have many works in the collection that are printed on demand, or take on the production means of mass-printed/distributed material. These books are usually still made in smaller runs than a book produced by a large publisher, but some of the items in our collection were produced in editions of 1,000+. We are interested in works where artists are conceptually involved in the form of the book or multiple (we also collect sound and video recordings, multiples that are more sculptural in nature, as well as digital works) so we do not discriminate against works that are part of larger editions or that do not appear as “handmade”.

    This said, we collect works along the curricular interest at the School and along the School’s and library’s mission. That leaves room for a broad variety of material. We are an instructional collection, so for most artists or groups we can only provide samples of their works. However, there are a few artists or presses and publishers where we have fairly comprehensive holdings. We are not particularly interested in book sculptures, graphic prints, or video art because there are other departments within this School and Museum who collect this type of work, but sometimes a print or a video ends up here because it is part of a work, or because we have lots of books by this artist and then want to show other formats of her/his too, so that artists understand they don’t have to limit themselves to any given media form but choose whatever is right for a specific idea and concept.

    We also pay attention to what gets produced here at the School by students, staff and faculty, and in Chicago in general.

  5. Some of the collections are vinyl records, cassettes, Floppy disks or even a USB drive; technological development diversified the practice of artist’s book. How has the definition of “artist’s book” changed in a general sense?

    We’ve never collected artists’ books. We’ve always collected artists’ publications, which by definition covers a range of media. I am not worried if the item I am interested in is ‘bookish’ enough, or adheres to traditional parameters of binding and sequentiality. I am more worried whether the item I’m about to purchase will be stimulating discussion or not, will be an intelligent addition to the general canon of this type of artistic practice and will add something new to our collection, be it an unexplored topic, a new printing method or constructed solution.

  6. How has technology changed the way of archiving? For example, moving data from primary storage to other media.

    We are just trying to wrap our heads around it and are a bit behind when it comes to archiving media. In fact we have already lost access to some, for example or large floppy discs, or the DVD-ROMs of the late 90s. As for web art we only link to URLs. I have a few early examples, when work was simple and not interactive and could still be burned onto a CD, but we have a database of about 1,000 links on our website for users interested in born-digital work. We are in the process of working out a preservation plan for all our library special collections media types of which there are many, especially different audio and video formats.

  1. 你認為 Joan Flasch 的藝術家之書收藏與一般的圖書館在運作上有甚麼分別?你會如何分類和保存你的收藏呢?



    很多時候你會在博物館的櫥窗看見一些跟我們收藏相同的作品,而我們的展示方式恰恰相反。所有的贊助人,不論是他們是來自學院或學院以外,只要他們洗手(不須戴手套) 都可以隨時在辦公時間探訪我們和翻閱資料。我們也有一些在翻閱時需要多加注意的作品,即使這樣,它們仍然開放予所有人閱覽,而我們亦接受因手接觸而造成的正常性耗損。我們相信當作品要以藝術家的創作動機來呈現的話這是必然的結果-如果藝術家不想自己的作品被觸摸,他們何不製作一幅油畫或一件雕塑?我們都希望藏書能被使用,縱使它們會被損耗,但在那時侯這些作品已經啟發了很多人用自己的方式創意地去思考。

  2. 使用這些資料時有甚麼限制或規則需要遵守?使用者可以拍照或影印資料嗎?


  3. 誰是圖書館的常客?


  4. 你們收藏了超過7000件藝術家出版物,請問你們是依據什麼準則來收藏的?



  5. 有一些藏品是黑膠唱片、錄音帶、磁碟,又或是一隻USB,科技的進步使藝術家們的作品變得更多元化,而這已經超出了僅僅是一本書的範圍。廣義上來說,你認為「藝術家藏書的定義怎樣隨著時間而改變呢?

    我們從沒有收藏「藝術家之書」,我們收藏的是「藝術家的出版物」,從定義上涵蓋不同範疇的媒介。我不擔心我收藏的是不是一本書,又或它在裝幀 次序上是否根據傳統的準則。我比較擔心的是我準備選購的作品,能否引起討論。它是否這類型的藝術實踐以外的明智之選? 它能否為我們的收藏注入生氣?它是否一個未被發掘的議題?一種新的印刷方式或解構方案?

  6. 你認為科技怎樣能改變保存資料的方式?例如一手資料傳送到其他的媒介?


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Introduction of Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection

Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection – Thaw

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Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection – Garlic and Greens

Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection – Dave Stories