Focus Artistic Research

NO ISBN – the privatization of publication

Bernhard Cella

Center of Art and Knowledge Transfer

Through the Salon für Kunstbuch in Vienna, artist Bernhard Cella has created a project model which allows a multitude of different modes of use and reception. The project is focused on the current boom of artists' books which is both intensified and critically questioned for his relevance in society. This potential is used to initiate a multi-leveled research process on the intersection of artistic and scholarly practices of research, intervention and innovation.
An empirical survey serves to create an exhaustive compilation of books created by artists in the German-speaking countries between 2009 and 2011, which will be presented on a publicly accessible online database. The network of contacts built up by the "Salon für Kunstbuch" will allow to conduct this empirical study. We will build upon questions posed by connatural research projects (such as "Die Burg", Bremen, and ABC-Artistic Book, Museum of Applied Arts - Contemporary Arts, Vienna) and upon results achieved by these projects. We will also collaborate on a categorization towards an archival perspective.


At the same time, this collection of research data will be the foundation for a qualitative analysis, focused on central questions regarding contemporary creation of the public. This topic will be adressed by researchers and authors of artists' books: What is the significance of the current hype of artists' book production regarding the social status of producers and their role in constructing and questioning the contemporary aspect of the public? How does this reflect on social, political, economical and gender-specific questions? Can these developments be interpreted as exemplary auspicies of tendencies in general public society? What is the role of digital means of production and distribution for these neo-analog products? Are the low numbers of published quantities for artists' books and their semi-public or completely private channels of distribution a sign for the "Verbiedermeierung" of artistic strategies and practices?
At the end of the entire research process, the results will be reintroduced into the artistic sphere, using the means that Bernhard Cella as an artist, and the Salon-für-Kunstbuch as a model space offer. The quantitative results of the project will be published as a rhetoric statement that takes the form of an artist book manifest and will be distributed via the online platform of the Salon-für-Kunstbuch and its international partners. Contrary to usual scientific publications, this will be a genuinely artistic approach, which enables a subjective criticism, in the sense that selected ideas of the manifest will be charged with allegations and reprovals.

The project duration is 24 months. The project will be realised by Bernhard Cella and art historian Dr. Agnes Blaha at the Institute of Art and Knowledge Transfer of the University of Applied Arts Vienna, under the leadership of O.Univ.-Prof. Christian Reder.