Christopher Williams: Printed in Germany
Walther König / Cologne, 2014 / Designed by Petra Hollenbach / buchhandlung-walther-koenig.de
Two perfectly matched, separately published volumes by Christopher Williams successfully meld artist book and exhibition catalogue. The Production Line of Happiness, which accompanied an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Modern Art, contains relatively few photographs. But it does include a collection of curatorial statements, excerpted writing from select influences, old press releases, footnotes, and a smattering of didactic, instruction-manual style texts, including a list of “basic rules for the design of a catalogue,” a definition of a barcode, and colophon and usage guides for each of the copublisher’s logos.
The second volume, Printed in Germany, is a thick book filled with a slew of blank pages and images pushed into the gutter, bled around pages, or repeated, with nary a stitch of text save for the words “Printed in Germany” on the back page. Both are scaled to the same trim size, come in multiple colors, are based on the same system and format, and offer interlocking systems for viewing the work. “This is a maddening, compulsive set of books,” comments Lesley Martin, “obsessive and self-conscious, perfectly in keeping with the material-obsessed nature of Williams’s work and the opaque but beguiling experience of the exhibition itself.”