Although initially hired as as designer, Pinch acted as producer, confessor and doula to a catalogue raisonné of Barbara Tetenbaum's books, published by the artist's press.
The book contains four parallel narratives: an illustrated chronology of Ms. Tetenbaum’s career; an interpretive essay, in English and German, from one of the European book arts community’s most respected critics and practitioners; multiple views of each of the 36 books in the exhibition; and an annotated catalog of advertising cuts from Ms. Tetenbaum’s working collection — all tucked comfortably, along with nine full-sized page reproductions of the artist’s latest work, into 48 pages.
The book was printed offset in six colors, sewn and half-bound in cloth on exposed binder's board. Ms. Tetenbaum printed a unique title card for each book using a plate we prepared for her on waste sheets from her studio.
The first nine pages of Half-Life feature facsimile pages from Ms. Tetenbaum's then-most recent title, Gymnopædia No. 4 reproduced at full-size to give the reader an idea of the level of texture and detail in her work. The selection also set up the four-column motif we used to organize information.
Full title spread, wherein the four simultaneous narratives of the books are defined. The background is a detail of a linocut (and a motif) that reoccurs in Ms. Tetenbaum's work: mark-making as a method of keeping record.
Curator's introduction and portrait of the artist, who doesn't like having her picture taken.
Breathing room is critical in book design, and particularly so in short, dense visual books like this one. The first dozen pages were pure uncontextualized image. Here, and on the half-title following, we're providing the reader a break before starting the curatorial portion of the book.
To the literal-minded, devoting four of forty-eight pages (or one-twelfth) to blank paper could be construed—in the words of a former client—as non-value-added space. But on balance, we might have blanked two or three pages from the introductory material and been the better for it – not for lack of content, but for a smoother and better-handled reading experience. A book is an object and it is a container; but it is also an experience.
First curatorial pages. The book was composed of four simultaneous narratives. From left: an illustrated timeline of the artist's life- and work-course; a critical essay, in English and German, from the Leipzig artist and critic Ute Schneider; illustrations of all the books included in the exhibition; and a selection of advertising cuts from Ms. Tetenbaum's collection, which figure prominently in her work.
Subsequent curatorial spread. The advertising cut images wrap from one page to the other, supporting continuity and providing a dynamic frame for the otherwise rationally-constructed page.
Images, though placed according to a set of rules, were free to intrude into neighboring areas, as necessary; images in the left-most column are reserved for illustrating work by the artist's friends and influences.
Exhibition checklist, showing the end of the simultaneous narrative section and the tail-out of the red advertising cuts; curriculum vitæ.