Amanda Keeley has always found inspiration in artist's books. Now, the 2014 Knights Art Challenge finalist is readying her longtime project, Exile Books, for its Miami debut this weekend at Locust Projects. Exile Books is a traveling pop-up store installation dedicated to selling, supporting, and promoting publications produced by artists.
For the premiere pop-up, Keeley collaborated with New York painter Sarah Crowner, who has created a large installation that references the history of stage and set design, with Keeley sourcing materials about set design, theater, and dance performance for the location. The opening reception on Saturday also will feature the limited-edition monoprint of a theatrical playbill, created by Keeley and Crowner, that will be available for purchase. Books that inspired Crowner, like periodicals from the Art Brut movement, will be part of Exile's selection, in addition to three titles by the artist.
Crowner's featured project, Sunday in the Park, is her largest work to date, a painting-based installation that doubles as a theatrical stage. Audio artist Sari Carel has created compositions of birds and outdoor sounds to accompany patrons through the constructed park setting. Keeley says she also designed some lounge seating for the Exile space, creating a place for people to sit and enjoy spending time with the materials.
"It's also presenting (Crowner's) work and showing her process and what inspires her, and that's something that I love about artist books," Keeley told New Times. "It reveals more of an inner side of the process and what's going into the work they're creating."
In addition to gaining more insight into artists' work and inspiration, the books are a way to bring art to the masses, unhindered by gallery locations and unattainable prices.
"I find artist books to be a very accessible medium and it appeals to a broad group of people," Keeley said. "It's something that I always felt was so important about artist books, how they're mass dissemination, mass distribution, and really allow a very open voice of communication directly from the artist."
Keeley is the former manager of Printed Matter Inc. and ran Yoko Ono's studio for nine years before departing to launch Exile, which will set up shop in various venues in Miami and spend four to six weeks on display at each location. She researched bookstores and pop-up shops from around the world to come up with a design that's transported in modular components and easily assembled on site. The visual look of the installation is inspired by Donald Judd's classic minimalist sculptures combined with the Memphis Group-style, adding bright colors and bold patterns and shapes.
Keeley, Crowner, and Carel will hold a panel discussion at 7 p.m. Saturday to discuss the collaborative work, moderated by Miami Rail editor Nina Johnson-Milewski. Exile Books' closing reception on October 9 will feature a 7 p.m. performance by the Peter London Global Dance Company and students from New World School of the Arts, who will create a site-specific piece in response to Crowner's installation, choreographed to a composition by Carel.
"It's been really exciting for me to engage in kind of cross-disciplinary; to not only work with a visual artist but a sound artist and also talking to these young, very talented dancers and educating them about artist books and the material," Keeley said.
In partnership with Printed Matter Inc., Exile will carry over 200 different artist's books from all over the world. Unlike a traditional art book or exhibition catalog, these books are conceived of as works of art in and of themselves and are generally inexpensive, Keeley says, often produced in large or open editions, and are democratically available.
"My passion has been to bring print culture to Miami and that's what I've been actively working on -- figuring out the best way to introduce it to audiences here," Keeley said. "It's been exciting coming up with creative programming, and also allowing fellow artists a platform to present projects on."
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