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Description - Artists making books: poetry to politics by Venetia Porter

A collection of outstanding and fascinating artists' books revealing the inspirations and concerns of a group of remarkable contemporary artists.

'More than a simple reflection of the British Museum's artist-book holdings, this is an important index of artists' responses to the issues and circumstances that have shaped the Arab world in recent times.' - ArtReview

'A rare treat...a passionate and extremely well organized analysis of over 60 artists' books from the [British] Museum's collection.' - The Markaz Review


In the hands of artists and poets, books have been taking a radically different form since the advent of the artist's book in Paris in the early 20th century. Appearing in a variety of shapes and sizes, as one-offs or small print editions, books offer artists and poets a novel form of expression. In the words of Indian artist Nalini Malani (b. 1946), the book is 'a carrier of experience', in which whole worlds are encapsulated.

In this beautifully produced book, works made by artists from Beirut to Tunis and beyond highlight the relationship between artists and writers and the influences that inform their work, from family to politics and everything in between. Lebanese artist Abed Al Kadiri (b. 1984) conceived his book during the first month of the pandemic to explore his family history, while through the eyes of Iraqi artist Kareem Risan (b. 1960) we see the shocking aftermath of a deadly explosion on the streets of Baghdad in 2005.

These artists also find inspiration in classical poetry and literature. Some of their works respond to and are informed by the medieval Persian poetry of Rumi and Hafez, as well as the tales of The Thousand and One Nights.

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