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Art, Fact, and Artifact: The Book in Time and Place

Written by eastern writer on Saturday, June 28, 2008

College Book Art Association Biennial Conference – Call for Proposals

January 8-10, 2009

hosted by the University of Iowa Center for the Book

The art of the book has been at once visionary and documentary, imagining a future that has yet to exist while finding inspiration from the resources of the past. The first biennial conference of the College Book Art Association seeks to bridge the worlds of book art, book history, cultural criticism, and curatorial work through appreciation of the book as an aesthetic sensorium. Scholarship, artistic practice, and the digital age have evoked for us the multimedia nature of the book experience. Animated by practices that define anew the cultural record, contemporary book creators unsettle the categories whereby art is valued and appreciated, making new objects that express the range of human experience. Roused by research into the materiality of texts, humanities scholars and institutional curators have summoned new facts to explain communication technologies, writing an alternative history of word and image in the book format. Pressed by political urgencies, artists and researchers have measured the meanings of art and fact through bookwork that serves as cultural criticism. At a time when the book arts have never been more vital, “Art, Fact, and Artifact” builds from these energies and seeks presentations, papers, and studio demonstrations from artists and scholars interested in the future, present, and past of the book as an expressive form.

Randall McLeod, Department of English, University of Toronto
Tate Shaw, Preacher’s Biscuit Books and Visual Studies Workshop, University of Rochester

Along with session programming, the conference agenda will include exhibits, tours of facilities, open discussion time, and portfolio review. Further details will be forthcoming.

For the conference program, the organizers invite submissions for individual presentations, pre-formed panels, and studio demonstrations.

Possible topics may include but are not limited to:

Artist presentations of current work or work-in-progress

Studio demonstrations: process/experimentation/resurgence

Questions of materiality: the actual, the physical, the virtual, the digital

The book as document

Curating and collecting: what do we want? how do we know?

The procedural turn, then and now

Flat art, spatial art, temporal art, book art

Intimacy and the book: sex, touch, the private, the public

Institutions and theories of value

The book as witness

Questions of practice: modeling methods

Ideologies of the book

Craft perspectives: the hand in the work

History and documentation: writing our history and our now

Humble books and an aesthetics of the ordinary

Conceptualism, bookwork, and installation

The role of criticism

Space, pace, and plane

The theory and practice of exhibition

Reading and the hand-operated codex

The archive as muse


Send proposals as email attachments to:


University of Iowa Center for the Book
216 North Hall
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242
Attn: Art, Fact, and Artifact

All proposal submissions should include: proposal title; name and contact information; a biography or vita of participants; audio-visual needs.

Individual proposals: A 200-250 word description of a paper (abstract for a 20-minute talk), of an artist presentation (20 minutes), or of a studio demonstration (include time requirements for demonstrations).

Organized sessions: a 250-word overview of proposal. Organizers should assemble 3 speakers for a paper session (include individual paper abstracts in addition to overview), 3-4 presenters for an artist presentation (include individual descriptions in addition to overview), 1 moderator and up to 4 contributors for a panel/roundtable discussion, and 2-3 studio specialists for a demonstration.

For artist presentations, along with the description please include 5-10 representative examples of work to be shown (jpegs, pdf or powerpoint).

For studio demonstrations, detail facilities requirements, including equipment, materials & supplies, and space requirements. Please be specific.

Alternative formats encouraged.

Graduate students: the CBAA encourages graduate student participation. The UICB has secured funding to help defray costs for student presenters. To apply, include a brief letter describing your need for assistance.

Presenters must be members of the College Book Art Association. To join, visit the CBAA website at or you may join when registering for the conference.

For more information, contact Matthew P. Brown ( or Julia Leonard (


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