The Book as Studio as an Idea as an Object

Victor Sira Is a Venezuela-born artist/photographer whose work has been the recipient of numerous fellowships, including the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He curated the show Photography Book Dummies at the School of International Center of Photography. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions, including the Rencontres d’Arles 2005 and the show De l’Europe in Luxemburg 2007. Sira is on the faculty at the ICP-Bard MFA Advanced Photographic Studies Program in New York, where he teaches the course The Book: Imaginary Studio, A Non Stop Process.


Find me on...

I hope you enjoy our  interview Elisabeth Tonnard!


We are pleased to announce an Interview with artist  Elisabeth Tonnard

I first met Elisabeth Tonnard three years ago when we both were members of the ABC (Artists’ Books Cooperative). Since then I always have been a great admirer of her artist books, deep knowledge of the independent bookmaking and general wisdom as an artist.

Elisabeth Tonnard is a Dutch artist and poet working in artists’ books, photography and literature. Since 2003 she has published thirty books in which texts and images extracted from the cultural archive are processed and laid out to exhibit their latent messages. The works range in scale and method from a book that iscompletely invisible, to a book containing a short story that swallowed a novel, to a book that is a swimming pool. The books are included in numerous public collections and are exhibited widely. The work has won several awards, most recently the Kleine Hans (Little Hans) Award 2013.

I hope you enjoy our interview!

 1) How did you become interested in artist books?

I became curious about them around 2005 or so. At that point I already had one self-published book out, and was living in The Netherlands. For a few years I had been working with texts in a way that couldn’t be placed easily in Dutch literature. I was for instance cutting in found texts, or using the correction fluid “whiteout” (in Europe called “tipp-ex”) to correct existing texts and make them into new poetry, or cutting silhouettes out of epitaphs I had photographed. It was a visual and conceptual approach to literature, and moreover it was often in the English language. I didn’t know how to position my work, what context to connect to, which was confusing. I hadn’t seen that many artist books and didn’t know anyone involved in them, but saw online that there were many activities ongoing in the US and became curious since it seemed to combine the visual and the textual. I ended up applying to the MFA program at Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY where the mix of attention to photography, film and artist books and the availability of some amazing archives led me to start making books in a way I never foresaw.

2) How significant have books been to your art practice?

They have enabled me to have an art practice. Books to me are a very fluid and natural way of working. Somehow I am always thinking in pages, rather than for instance single images. I don’t do books on the side, making them a second-rate version of something that is supposed to be hung on a wall. Books are my main modus operandi. Even when I do make installations it comes down to pages, and seeing the whole space as a book.

3) What would it be like if Jesus had been a photographer? asks your recent book "The Gospel of the Photographer", the book has to do with photography’s hypothetical past, but do you think in it we may find its possible future?

I think it is quite close to the present, showing in exaggerated form how I experience it. On the one hand a rather hysterical view of photography as a holy and magical act performed by the pompous Photographer with a capital P, on the other hand, and at the same time, the anemic flatness of photography in the situation where everything is photographed all the time and everything is as relevant as everything else. And then running in between these extremes, photography can also be a “good act”, of being involved with the world that you walk through, a reflexive deed, whether this is done through taking pictures yourself or through taking and re-using pictures from others. This good act is what the motto of the book refers to “Be on guard, keep taking photographs”. These are some of the notions in or behind the book, but it is of course also made in playfulness, seeing and testing how one can substitute just a few words in the text of the gospel and create a new world that is familiar and strange, possible and impossible at the same time.

4) The Invisible Book is one of the most perfect and rare books ever made, can you tell us more about this unique book?

The book was made specifically as a product that would not have a single fault, and was available at the lowest price possible ($0). This to accommodate both the audience that expects perfectly printed and bound books, plus the audience that does not want to spend money on books (it is one of the inconveniences in publishing that these audiences oftentimes overlap). The book was also released in a limited edition of only 100 copies, in order to accommodate the discerning collector. So it was really a book that gave everybody exactly what he or she wanted. Then on the day the book was published by announcement on my website, it completely sold out because German artist Joachim Schmid ordered the entire edition. He has since then been successfully auctioning his copies on Ebay, thereby demonstrating an interesting aspect of the art market: the speculator makes money while the artist gets zero. I did make a second edition available, which was launched with a great invisible party that people attended through Facebook. This edition is also limited to 100 copies, but there is the stipulation that no one can order more than one copy.

5) What is the next direction on your bookmaking?

There are a few projects that I can’t wait to get started on. One using negatives I found by accident while I was working on The Gospel of the Photographer and couldn’t locate the lantern slides I knew had to be there in the archive. The material suggests some kind of photonovel treatment. I also want to create a work based on one of the earliest photos I took. It will need to be made in a traditional darkroom, and I am considering applying to a residency in order to realize it. Then there are some ideas for textbased works. One is based on a clue that James Joyce mentions in one of his novels and that I’m hoping to expand on. Too early to tell if it will work out. I am also trying to find time to focus on my poetry in Dutch, a literary publisher is interested in publishing a collection of my work.





3、最新作「The Gospel of the Photographer (その写真家の福音書)」では、もしジーザスがフォトグラファーだったら、という仮説を投げかけています。もしそれが写真の過去だとしたら、この本から写真の未来も見つけられると思いますか。


4、「The Invisible Book (目に見えない本)」は非の打ち所のない稀にみる本だと思います。この本について少し聞かせて下さい。



早く取り掛かりたくてウズウズしているプロジェクトがいくつかあります。ひとつは、「The Gospel of the Photographer」を作っているときに偶然見つけたネガを使ったものです。ずっと探していたスライド写真がようやく見つかったので。写真小説のようなものになると思います。もうひとつは、写真を撮り始めた時の作品をもとに何か作りたいですね。それには暗室が必要なのでレジデンシーに応募しようと思っています。あとはテキストベースの作品のアイディアもいくつかあります。その一つは、ジェームス・ジョイスの小説の中に書かれた一節をもとにコンセプトを膨らませたものです。現段階ではうまくいくかまだ分かりませんが。あとは、オランダ語で書いている私の詩を出版したいと言ってくれている出版社がいるのでまとめる時間を見つけたいですね。


The Gospel of the Photographer by Elisabeth Tonnard
now available at the bdp store: buy it here

What would it be like if Jesus had been a photographer? What would he have done differently and which images would he have snapped? The Gospel of the Photographer imagines this possible world through a rewriting of the gospel of Mark. Words from the gospel were replaced by words connected to photography, resulting in a booby trapped text in which photography appears as an agent of miracles and healing—and announces itself ultimately as the new religion. The book includes twenty-five newly discovered photographs.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he took photographs. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may take photographs there also, for that is what I came for.” And he went throughout all Galilee, photographing in their synagogues and casting out demons.

-Elisabeth Tonnard-

The book is included in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the International Center of Photography Library, MoMA Library, and the New York Public Library.

bookdummypress new location Mana contemporary


We continue setting up at our new bookstore and studio location at Mana contemporary, here are some views of a beautiful print from Andrea Stern’s Assembly project.


Mana contemporary:


Unpacking BDP’s library at its new location at Mana Contemporary:


"Las Meninas" by Paul Soulellis; now available at the bdp store

Las Meninas is a series of 17 photographs depicting the photographer and/or camera’s reflection visible in mirror or glass. All of the photographs are taken using Google Street View (interior views).

-Paul Soulellis-


Printed Web #1 Publisher: Paul Soulellis, Library of the Printed;  is now available at the bookdummypress store

In October 2013 I invited several web-to-print artists whose work I collect for Library of the Printed Web to contribute new work for an exhibition. The show would take the form of a 64-page publication.

The result is Printed Web #1

These are artists who sift through enormous accumulations of images and texts on the web—hunting, grabbing, compiling and publishing. Nearly all of the artists here (Mishka Henner, Joachim Schmid, Clement Valla, Benjamin Shaykin, Christian Bök, & David Horvitz, Penelope Umbrico and Chris Alexander) use the search engine for navigation and discovery, enacting a kind of performance with data.

Additionally, pivotal texts by Hito Steyerl and Kenneth Goldsmith suggest a narrative frame for examining the work.

Printed Web #1 does not define a movement or an aesthetic; rather, it implies something spatial, or a new way of working in the world. Perhaps these pages present evidence of an emerging web-to-print practice forming around the artist (as archivist), the web (as culture) and publishing (as both an old and a new schema for expressing the archive).

-Paul Soulellis-


bookdummypress moved today to its first brick & mortar location at Mana Contemporary, wish us luck and stay tuned for future events!

In week #03 of my book class at ICP-Bard MFA, we looked at the Dieter Roth’s “Collected Works”. The books introduced are from a realm between original and duplication. Roth was always drawn to exceeding the limits of arts, may they be aesthetic or technical. His everlasting artistic stimulus was his curiosity for what is to be discovered when the safe and known is left behind.

Takayuki Kobayashi from flotsam books is the fourth juror for the Newsprint Award 2014!


We have another awesome juror for this year’s Newsprint Award, Takayuki Kobayashi from flotsam books is joining us! 2 weeks and a half to go for the application deadline, looking forward to see your work!

Takayuki Kobayashi is the owner of flotsam books, a Japanese independent online photobook store that carries a wide range of domestic and international photobooks, art portfolios and visual books.

<flotsam books 小林孝行>
写真集、作品集などのヴィジュアルブックを中心に新刊、古書、洋書、和書を問わず、常に面白い本を独自の視点で販売しているオンライン書店flotsam books代表。

Check out flotsam books for inspiration:


bdp is pleased to be part of the upcoming show Thanks for Writing by curating a shelf with other notable art presses at 601 Artspace in Chelsea

Thanks for Writing (TFW) aims to explore reading and writing in the contemporary art context via artworks that incorporate or gesture to text.

This small “library” will be available to the public;
bookdummypress selections: 10x10 American Photobooks,
The Gospel of the Photographer and Enduring Freedom –The Poetry of the Presiden by Elisabeth Tonnard, Writing as Practice by Secretary Press, Library of the Printing Web #1” by Paul Soulellis, Obituaries” by Gabriel Orozco, Booktrek” by Clive Phillpot, The Global Village: Logos and Marks” by Victor Sira,The Americans List” by Jason Eskenazi, A Hero ain’t Nothing but A Sandwich” by Curtis Hamilton.

bdp new poster!


Our new poster for "Thank you for Writing" at 601 Artspace

bdp is pleased to be part of the upcoming show Thanks for Writing by curating a shelf with other notable art presses at 601 Artspace in Chelsea.

Thanks for Writing (TFW) aims to explore reading and writing in the contemporary art context via artworks that incorporate or gesture to text.

This small “library” will be available to the public, please join us for the opening reception and take this great opportunity to check this show.

Thanks for Writing
@ 601 Artspace
601 West 26th St. #1755
New York, NY 10001
February 27 – June 14, 2014
Opening reception: February 27, 6 - 9pm

bookdummypress library list for Thank you for Writing at 601 Artspace


bdp is pleased to be part of the upcoming show “Thanks for Writing” by curating a shelf with other notable art presses at 601 Artspace in Chelsea.

Thanks for Writing (TFW) aims to explore reading and writing in the contemporary art context via artworks that incorporate or gesture to text.

This small “library” will be available to the public, please join us for the opening reception and take this great opportunity to check this show.

Thanks for Writing

@ 601 Artspace

601 West 26th St. #1755

New York, NY 10001

February 27 – June 14, 2014

Opening reception: February 27, 6 - 9pm

bookdummypress selections:

"10x10 American Photobooks”

"The Gospel of the Photographer” by Elisabeth Tonnard

"Enduring Freedom –The Poetry of the President” by  Elisabeth Tonnard 

"Writing as Practice” by Secretary Press

"Library of the Printing Web #1” by Paul Soulellis 

"Obituaries” by Gabriel Orozco 

"Booktrek” by Clive Phillpot 

"The Global Village: Logos and Marks” by Victor Sira 

" The Americans List” by Jason Eskenazi 

"A Hero ain’t Nothing but A Sandwich” by Curtis Hamilton


We had a great time at the Greenwich Village Antiquarian Book Fair! Thank you for coming and I hope we will see you soon…



Photo:“26 patients, 1 employee and 1 visitor at Santa Lucia’s Mental Institute” © Dafne Capella.

(via bookdummypress)

Loading posts...