Arts Lab | The Creative Book Exchange
"I can use what is currently in my life, what is around me to make the book. The book is like a companion, it is alive . I can take it with me as I create. I am living through it and beyond it." (Participant)
The Creative Book Exchange is an invitation to participate in creating and/or contributing to a tangible (or non-digital) collection of handmade artist books. Analogue books are not subject to digital obsolescence.
The books include entries and creative expressions of de-identified experiences of family, domestic and sexualised violence.
Through the arts, ‘The Creative Book Exchange’ allows for a creative and discrete approach to exchanges of insights, experiences, expressions, observations, interpretation and excerpts of violence and resistance to violence.
‘The Creative Book Exchange’ has been designed by an artist. The invitation to participate is open, there is no need to consider yourself an artist to take part.
Open the outline of The Creative Book Exchange (PDF)
How to participate
You can participate in one, any or all of the 4 options.
(1) Watch how to make book parts
View the 20min step by step video (below)
(3) Circulate books & directly add insights
Request a book or sections of a book for participation and circulation. Books are circulated discretely for participants to contribute in de-identified ways.
About contributing insights
The books have blank pages for (but not limited to) writing, drawing, collage, needlework, printing, poetry or other forms of scribing and expression. Envelopes, in envelopes, in hidden pockets that can be either sealed, or left open. Included in the books are images and words that can be act as a catalyst for response.
Participants can create an entry based off their own experience or respond to words and images in the book. Narratives and entries are not limited by time, scale, frequency, place, perceived social norms or structure. Entries can be based on responses to violence, resistance to violence and experiences of responses from society, services and systems. Participants can make one or more entries over time.
"Yes! We are from the world, our stories matter, our stories, experiences, and lives are actually ‘material’ to create archives from experience-based memory, we don´t need institutional or state authority." (Participant)
"It was satisfying and rewarding to both make and interact with the book object, knowing my memories and parts of me had been transmuted into a tangible object that would migrate through time. My experiences safely tucked away in the pages and envelopes of the book. Corroded and fresh memories materialised – to be shared and witnessed as part of bigger cultural memory dialogue with others." (Participant)
What is an artist book or book object?
Artist books have a broad definition, however the notion of a definition may lead to excluding something.
‘An artist’s book is a harmonious composite of design, form, content, and context with no one area dominating or responsible for the bulk of intended message(s). The overlapping of form (materials) and content (message) is quite often the major vehicle for creative expression.’ (Darryl Baird)
It can be works of art that utilise the form of the book. They are often produced as one-of-a kind objects or as a collection of books.
As an object these books are created, seen, felt, touched, handled, shared, responded to, examined, collected, planned, discussed, appreciated, cherished, and archived.
The artist book object is many things.
- A facilitation for conversation and communication for the otherwise silent or silenced.
- A place for both interweaving and standalone dialogue for victim/survivors.
- A vehicle of expression for the silent, silenced, or people who find other places unsafe, impossible, or unnecessary.
Rather than assuming a cultural authority by ‘services’ and ‘sectors’ (e.g., psychiatric, legal, health or criminal frameworks) in responses to violence, ‘The Creative Book Exchange’ opens a space for the arts, as a participatory action, a responder, a messenger or a visual telling of sorts.
The collection of books will be archived into cultural institutions to contribute and add value to the cultural memory of our time.
The Creative Book Exchange aims to bypass the hierarchal and historical structures of who and what narratives and experiences can be seen, heard and remembered.
‘The Creative Book Exchange’ is about a collaborative witnessing of disclosure at many scales. Like waiting for the words to exist to express an experience, or an assemblage of experiences, this project makes way for a different way of communicating and representing people.
The handmade books become the architecture for a discreet and dignified expression. Memories are not stored in a linear sequence in our minds nor are they retrievable that way. The process and collective approach of making these books both amplifies and represents this idea.
The books are not flat, they have many ways of seeing and saying, they don’t require or insist on linear descriptions. The style of the book has been created in such a way to suggest a discrete collection of insights.
There is no aesthetic certainty that can define the complexities of family, domestic and sexualised violence. Working with and beyond linguistic representation, moving past the myths that have persisted through time, ‘The Creative Book Exchange‘ encourages unique creative collaborations. Generating a place for expression, disclosure, and discovery.
The umbrella of violence and control is broad. The ‘The Creative Book Exchange’ opens a space for making sense of this multiplicity of experiences. The architecture of the books allows for a collection experiences, fragments of excerpts that bear witness to the silent and the silenced.
© Insight Exchange & collaborating Artist Louise Whelan