15 Jun 2016 12:00 AM | Deleted user

The first time I saw the Wikipedia “Artist’s book” entry was May 15, after reading this post by Philip Zimmermann to the “Book Arts Collective” Facebook group. Please read Phil’s statement.

What does this have to do with Book Art Theory? Nomenclature, language, words, semiotics: syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics, are fundamental to any attempt at understanding. Cognition is influenced by political, social and economic factors. In Wikipedia there is no entry for “Book art.” It redirects to “Artist’s book.”

Public perception of “Book art” is influenced by eliminating its name as a field. This has practical consequences, influencing funding sources, college administrations, the collector market, the development of critical theory, and more. It constrains the opportunity set. People who are not in the field of Book Art, or are just entering the field, are likely to query Wikipedia, and will find that the field does not exist.

We are the College Book Art Association. Our field exists. CBAA can and should provide leadership on this. It’s time for an intervention.

For at least four decades "Artist's book" has been a subfield of "Book art," not the other way around. It took very few people to commandeer the Wikipedia entry, as Phil pointed out. Click the View history tab to see. 

There are ways to correct Wikipedia. I am beginning to learn, just signed up with an account, and have not yet made any contributions or edits. There are procedures for speedy renaming and a Categories for discussion page. The first step will be to create and populate a “Book Art” entry that defines what “Book art” is, and identifies the subfields, with descriptions, images, links, etc. These would include "fine press," "sculptural bookworks," “installations,” “performances”, “artist books,” “altered books,” “designer bookbindings”, etc. Your help in defining “Book art” and naming all the subfields is important. Many works of book art involve several subfields, such as a fine press book in a designer binding, an altered book that is a sculptural bookwork, or an installation performance. Please comment below.

Similarly, Wikipedia has a problem with Book arts, now a disambiguation page. That also should be a category, separate from "Book art," with subfields of bookbinding, typography, papermaking, printing, calligraphy, illustration, etc. linked from it. Many writers incorrectly use "Book Arts" to identify the field of individual made objects, rather than reserving it for the craft disciplines used to produce them.

I have self-identified as a “Book Artist” since the early 1970s. A search for "Book artist" in Wikipedia results in "Artist's book."

This will not be instant. It will grow and evolve. Whether or not you have experience creating or editing Wikipedia entries, please participate. The input of book artists, book art curators, critics, dealers and collectors in essential. Should we try to organize a collaborative Wikipedia Intervention at the next annual meeting in Tallahassee? The theme of the meeting is “Conspire.”


  • 16 Jun 2016 5:00 PM | Anastasia S. Weigle
    I, too, have noticed this on Wikipedia and I agree with you. In my attempt to put together a problem statement for a pasts pilot study, I needed to define Book Arts. I did not find Book Arts on Wikipedia. As you said, Artists' Books came up. There are plenty of papers that define Artists' Books and Book Arts with all their subfields. I will not debate the definition because it is difficult to define but suffice it to say, I see myself as a book artists—quite young in the genre compared to my colleagues (12 years). I think creating a Wikipedia page to define Book Arts and create subfields is an excellent project/task/goal. I have an account with Wikipedia and used it once to add some content. I would like to be part of this venture and would like to see others join in.
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  • 21 Jun 2016 7:13 PM | Leslie Fedorchuk
    The CBAA might consider organizing a workshop similar to the one cited below. People gather (could be a conference offering, could be done all online - with people meeting up in small groups or working individually.

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  • 02 Aug 2016 6:39 AM | Anonymous
    Thanks you Leslie and Anastasia. Your participation is most welcome. Please get in touch with me directly--I do not have contact info for either of you. There is a contact form at http://minsky.com . We will be having a Book Art Theory Roundtable with audience participation at the Tallahassee meeting in January. If we have not organized a Wikipedia Workshop by then it will likely be on the agenda for the meeting of the Book Art Theory Blog Committee.
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