Through the Salon für Kunstbuch in Vienna, artist Bernhard
Cella has created a project model which allows a multitude of different modes of use and reception. The project is focused
on the current boom of artists' books which is both intensified and critically questioned for his relevance in society. This
potential is used to initiate a multi-leveled research process on the intersection of artistic and scholarly practices of
research, intervention and innovation.
An empirical survey serves to create an exhaustive compilation of books created
by artists in the German-speaking countries between 2009 and 2011, which will be presented on a publicly accessible online
database. The network of contacts built up by the "Salon für Kunstbuch" will allow to conduct this empirical study. We will
build upon questions posed by connatural research projects (such as "Die Burg", Bremen, and ABC-Artistic Book, Museum of Applied
Arts - Contemporary Arts, Vienna) and upon results achieved by these projects. We will also collaborate on a categorization
towards an archival perspective.
At the same time, this collection of research data will be the foundation for
a qualitative analysis, focused on central questions regarding contemporary creation of the public. This topic will be adressed
by researchers and authors of artists' books: What is the significance of the current hype of artists' book production regarding
the social status of producers and their role in constructing and questioning the contemporary aspect of the public? How does
this reflect on social, political, economical and gender-specific questions? Can these developments be interpreted as exemplary
auspicies of tendencies in general public society? What is the role of digital means of production and distribution for these
neo-analog products? Are the low numbers of published quantities for artists' books and their semi-public or completely private
channels of distribution a sign for the "Verbiedermeierung" of artistic strategies and practices?
At the end of the
entire research process, the results will be reintroduced into the artistic sphere, using the means that Bernhard Cella as
an artist, and the Salon-für-Kunstbuch as a model space offer. The quantitative results of the project will be published as
a rhetoric statement that takes the form of an artist book manifest and will be distributed via the online platform of the
Salon-für-Kunstbuch and its international partners. Contrary to usual scientific publications, this will be a genuinely artistic
approach, which enables a subjective criticism, in the sense that selected ideas of the manifest will be charged with allegations
The project duration is 24 months. The project will be realised by Bernhard Cella and art historian
Dr. Agnes Blaha at the Institute of Art and Knowledge Transfer of the University of Applied Arts Vienna, under the leadership
of O.Univ.-Prof. Christian Reder.