It was then time for the voices of artists to enter the discussion for the final session of the day, ‘Artists and Books.’ This session asked how, besides a premium on production and design, art has altered and interpreted the consumption and architecture of books. Is the book’s relevance to contemporary art that of material, method or performance? What of its endurance? What is the valence of the book as a signifier, and not merely as a keeper of signifiers?
Gulammohammed Sheikh began by recalling his time spent in libraries from childhood, and stressing his ongoing attachment to the physicality of the book. Sheikh’s incorporation of the artist book into his practice has included the creation of pocket-sized books which he considers a kind of talisman, containing motifs from cultures around the world. The potential for endless configuration of pages is an important aspect of his books, which he sees as ‘a kind of shrine where doors close on each other and become a box, but when they are opened there are multiple doors’ – a simultaneously disruptive and bodily approach.