The Boat Book, 2014

Miami Beach 2014
James Fuentes
Mixed media, dimensions variable
Alison Knowles The Boat Book, 2014 Mixed media, dimensions variable James Fuentes is pleased to announce its forthcoming solo presentation of Alison Knowles’s work at Art Basel Miami Beach. The presentation will include a new addition to the artist’s oversized book project, which debuted at Something Else Gallery in New York with The Big Book, 1966. These books are conceived as installations organized around a spine, a fully immersive reading experience. From 1966 through 1969, The Big Book traveled to venues in Canada, Europe and the United States. A seminal work within Knowles’s career, its influence led her to further investigations of the format with The Book of Bean, 1981 and a more intimately-sized work, The Finger Book, 1982. With The Boat Book, Knowles continues this investigation in a sculptural work whose structure is comprised of eight wood-framed pages, each four feet wide by eight feet high, connected to a metal central axis. Casters are attached to the bottom edge of each page, allowing their position to be fluidly adjusted across the floor. Each page presents an opportunity to literally go through it - whether it be via a window, hole or tunnel - and allows access to the following page, creating an environment where one can stay within the confines of the pages, and therefore ‘live’ within the work. Akin to the experience of reading a book, the viewer, or ‘engager’, of The Boat Book can only experience the work as an individual. Culling from sources as varied as a barn on the coast of Long Island, to the New York Public Library Photo Collection, the nautical references and concepts within The Boat Book are an ode to the artist’s older brother Lawrence Beckwith Knowles, a fisherman in East Hampton. True to the concept of intermedia, which was developed by Knowles’ late husband, the Fluxus artist Dick Higgins, The Boat Book is not a work that can be easily categorized. It is interdisciplinary in nature, embodying a juncture between sculpture, installation and performance. Inclusion of elements such as photography, collage, assemblage, silkscreen, inkjet print, handmade paper, beans, sand and personal ephemera, further expand the breadth of the work, tackling notions of the literary, the visual and self-reflexivity.