July 2011 | Nate Pedersen

Guerilla Book Art

NLS book art.jpg
If book collecting is an art form, it's not a very public one.  That's why I'm so enthusiastic about the pieces of book art being left around Edinburgh.  The intricate sculptures remind us of some of the pure aesthetic pleasures of books as objects, transformed or otherwise.

If you're not already familiar with the story, a mysterious book artist has been leaving elaborate book sculptures in literary locales around Edinburgh: the National Library of Scotland, the Filmhouse, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, and the Scottish Poetry Library have all been hit.  Each sculpture is derived from, or maintains a reference to, Ian Rankin, that great Scottish mystery writer.

No one has yet come forward to claim responsibility for their impressive pieces of guerilla art.  Edinburgh, meanwhile, has enough remaining literary institutions that a few more book sculptures may be on the horizon.

I think it would be fantastic if more book art pieces were left in libraries and literary institutions around the world.  As skillful as these book sculptures are, they never would have received much attention if they were simply, and politely, displayed in an exhibition.  Now they're becoming a real force of their own, invoking a discussion about the public place of art, books, reading, and collecting. This is a call, therefore, for more book artists to share their work with the public by, in essence, forcing it on us.  The thrill and mystery of these "found objects" in turn parallels the thrill and mystery of reading and collecting.

Maybe someone can install an actual book collection on a public sidewalk?  I know I'd love to see that.  And remember, if you're feeling inspired, anyone can become a guerilla artist.