Artspace 25 : Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining, edited by Caterina Riva, with texts by Tobias Berger, Chris Kraus and others, (Artspace Auckland, 2012), 160 pp., $ 40.
Art books are a mystery. Art itself is mysterious, not just because it is often better understood in retrospect but more because in order to be art, art must fail. Boris Groys pointed out that if the surrealists’ automatic writing had resulted in a psychological improvement for the artist, it would have been an interesting byproduct of the work. But if it was intended to heal the psyche of the artist and succeeded, it wouldn’t have been art, it would have been psychoanalysis. It is not so much that art fails, but that the criteria for success are absent. Artspace 25: Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining, is an art book. As a rule, art books don’t have a text that you read from cover to cover and they often have images that seem unrelated to the text. They obey design principles, but their readers have often not studied design. It can be seen that art books have an aesthetic that they adhere to, but what that is that aesthetic and how is it arrived at? What are the rules? What are the criteria for success in a book like this? How do we understand them, or find a way into them? I spoke to the three people who had had most to do with the construction of Artspace 25: Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining.
Caterina Riva is the director and curator of Artspace, a non-collecting, non-commercial organization for contemporary art in New Zealand Aotearoa. Caterina was the main decision maker for the content of the book, and also author of the text on the cover. For Caterina, an important aspect for this publication was that it was not an endpoint: ‘Artspace 25 is not an encapsulation of 25 years in a handy package and that is the end of that. It is a subjective take on the research that I carried out with the then Artspace intern Arron Santry in the archives. It is not just what we decided to show or make available, but also an attempt to let the Artspace organization speak for itself, rather than privileging mine or Arron’s, or anyone else’s voice.’