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Derek Sullivan: Albatross Omnibus

The Power Plant
15.5 × 22 × 2 cm
136 pp

The Power Plant’s 2011 commission Albatross Omnibus by Toronto-based artist Derek Sullivan involves new artist books, and a drawing and installation project. The commission’s core is a series of 52 limited edition books produced through print-on-demand technology. One full set of books is displayed in a grid-like formation hanging from wires at a height that visitors must use a stepladder to reach. Fourteen copies of each book were available for purchase in the gallery shop, with each title exclusively available for a single day of the 52 days of the exhibition. Each of the 52 books has its own title, while the full set shares the name Albatross Omnibus.

On entering the exhibition, visitors encounter a large accordion-shaped wall that snakes into a second gallery containing the grid of books. Each zigzag of this wall reads like the left and right pages of an oversized open book. Mutability, a characteristic of Sullivan’s practice, is deepened in this exhibition, with different forms and ideas folding into one another in a way that tests the boundaries of the finite. The project draws on the history of artists’ book production to examine its relationship to the larger art economy, while also exploring an interplay between book, furniture and garden design; concrete poetry; minimalism and conceptual art; authorship and appropriation; and the idea of reading as a stand in for interpretation. Ultimately the physical form of the book both supports and is the artwork.

The exhibition extends into this catalogue that is comprised of two sections housed in a case. The first is an accordion-fold book that reflects the form of the wall and documents the exhibition, as well as the 52 artist’s book covers in full colour. The second is a 32-page, saddle-stitched reader that features texts by curator Gregory Burke, artist AA Bronson and writer Kathleen Ritter and is printed in green ink on green paper.

Kathleen Ritter’s essay, “Incomplete & Open…Reading the Art of Derek Sullivan,” is a proud recipient of the 2012 OAAG Awards in the Art Writing category.

  1. Derek Sullivan: Albatross Omnibus

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