CULTURE

Books made like art objects

In the past few years, whenever she visited bookshops or the museum art shops abroad, publisher Eleni Saroglou found herself spending hours browsing through artists’ books. This is where she could discover books made with a sense for craftsmanship, originality and uniqueness. Saroglou appreciated the broad aesthetic range of the books and the match between format, layout and contents. Artists’ books were the opposite of standardized, mass-produced publications. Saroglou found that it was the closest a book – not necessarily of a limited edition – could come to a work of art. Motivated by her fondness for artists’ books, Saroglou decided around six years ago to launch Cube Editions, a publishing house that would specialize in the genre, which until then was poorly represented in Greece. An ex-painter who had worked for years at the Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center, Saroglou had worked with artists before and was used to presenting their work in an original and creative way. In her mind, a book should be a work of art in itself, an object with an aesthetic quality of its own. The texture, color, layout and visual flow of the book had to have a personality and presence irrespective of the contents. In «Leda Papaconstantinou: Performance, Film, Video 1969-2004,» one of Cube’s recent publications, the care that Saroglou puts into the making of a book comes through. The book was published on the occasion of an exhibition on the artist’s work that was held in late fall at the Benaki Museum. Like the rest of the Cube publications (such as a book on the photography of Lia Nalbadidou or the catalog printed for the Greek participation at the recent biennale of Alexandria), it is a sophisticated, discreet book which is the polar opposite of glossy, coffee-table tomes. It is also a book that presents the work of Leda Papaconstantinou, a pioneer of performance art in Greece, in a lucid, clear way with a narrative (in Greek and English) by the artist describing each performance. Text and images (black-and-white photographs that are grouped together for each performance) are presented side by side against a minimal, black and white background and matte-finish paper. The book also includes a foreword by the artist’s friend Sally Potter and succinct but to-the-point critical essays by Efi Strousa, Eleni Varopoulou and Nikos Xydakis. Because performances are ephemeral, this book is also vital for documenting this body of work and for reviving something of its directness. Yet, like the rest of the books published by Cube, it does not speak out loud to the reader but requires time and a cultivated eye. Cube is set on making books for a group of select readers and art lovers. At a time when the commercial success of a book has become a priority for most publishing houses, this is a challenge. www.cubearteditions.gr