Library Exhibit and Accordion Pleasures

Exhibit Case

A few weeks ago while at the Humboldt State U. library, I noticed that a new, intriguingly eclectic book exhibit was being installed in the main display case.

The friendly person arranging the books told me that students in the Museum and Gallery Practices certificate program, which was responsible for the exhibit, had each contributed a book of personal significance for inclusion. They were calling the display “Inspiration in a Book”.

Two of the books in particular caught my eye. They were accordions. I’m always fascinated by mass-produced accordions. They were each a reproduction of an old Japanese work of art for a Western audience, and both were published in the 1960s.

One was Choju Giga: Scrolls of Animal Caricatures, adapted by Shigetaka Kaneko from the Japanese text by Hideo Okudaira (the book was published in 1969; the work itself dates to the 12th and 13th C).

Choju Giga in display case


large accordion book in display case
As the copy of “Who’s Who in the CIA” would suggest, this is indeed an eclectic display.

The other was a reproduction of Sesshu’s Long Scroll that was published with English commentary by Tuttle.Sesshu's Long Scroll in display case

This enjoyable display inspired me to share the commercially-produced accordions from my own personal library.

Sesshu's Long ScrollFirst up is … Sesshu’s Long Scroll published by Tuttle in ’69. They’ve reprinted it a few times. This version has wooden covers (I think it might be the same edition that’s in the library exhibit).

Couleurs du Jour

Couleurs du Jour detail

Couleurs du Jour detail 3
This slinky, joyful delight is Couleurs du Jour by Czech author-illustrator Kveta Pacovska. It’s definitely colorful. And it’s filled with pop-ups and subtle changes in texture on the pages. It’s also double-sided and l-o-n-g. There are openings in some places that offer glimpses of parts of the reverse. It’s fun to open it at random and flip through — and stretch out — pages . . . after pages. The pages are all joined at the fore-edge to form the accordion, as you can see in this top view.

Couleurs du Jour closed

It’s the sort of thing that fills one with potential ideas for making one’s own books. The illustrations are simple and childlike, and there are no words. But the piece as a whole flows with an inner rhythm that seems to make sense in an odd and playful way.

This is Fenêtres Sur Rue (“Windows on the Street”) by Pascal Rabaté. On one side are views of buildings by day. Then you flip it over for nighttime.

Fenetres: Matinées Fenetres: soirees

Like the previous accordion, the pages are all glued together along one edge only (note the extra thickness on the right top view below).

Fenetres top view

Nox, published in 2010, is a facsimile of a handmade book by American poet and classicist Anne Carson. Its theme is decidedly more somber than the others. It comes in a clamshell box.

Nox, open in clamshell box


Nox by Anne Carson

The eclectic display at the Humboldt State library is in the large case on the ground floor and will be on view until July 27.

10 thoughts on “Library Exhibit and Accordion Pleasures”

  1. I found that similar exhibition, where each of a group of people contribute something with a – often not revealed – personal connection seem to pop up more and more, here and there. All too often they seem too random to me. For example just recently I saw an exhibition in the reception room to a larger gallery, where each of staff had put “something” of personal relevance. Looking at the things was a bit like strolling over a antiques market. Not uninteresting, but random. – I am not a fan of such shows, I must say.
    But it looks like the exhibit at the library did a good job with making people think about books, look at books…

    Thanks for granting an insight in your personal collection: such beautiful books and photos! The Couleurs du Jour looks indeed playful and intriguing. I like the idea of showing day and night on the different sides for Fenêtres Sur Rue and the last one looks so much different and interesting… Will have to head over to read more about it.

    • Thanks Hilke. I understand your criticism for “personal connection” exhibits. If it were a hodge-podge of items with no revealed connection, I would find that irritating too. In this case, since it’s a university library, I think it actually works. I wasn’t interested in some of the subject matter personally, but I thought the books as a group conveyed the wide-reaching interests and backgrounds of the students, and that itself came across as the unifying theme. Even so, I agree it might have been nicer if some insight had been provided why each book had been chosen.

      As for my books, I’m glad you like the photos! Thanks. I do find commercial accordions intriguing, and I figured other bookmakers probably would too.

  2. I don’t know whether I love the library exhibit or your books more.
    They don’t only appeal to the bookmakers. This booklover itches to open them for herself. I love the different perspectives.
    I often like personal collections, though I agree that some information about why they are special helps. People are so different, so similar, and so different. And my mind is fascinated by the mobius strip that those difference and similarities creates…

    • Thanks EC. Indeed, you are a book lover too! I wish I’d been able to get better photos of the exhibit. The library employees were nice, but not sure they could give me permission to take any pictures of it(!). I finally got to speak with someone in Administration, who gave me the ok… but wasn’t sure if a tripod would be allowed. The light level was very low and I couldn’t use a flash. I’m actually amazed anything turned out at all, but it would’ve been nice if I could’ve shown more of the display.

      At any rate, I’m glad you liked the books! The accordions are indeed fun.

  3. That does look a good display.Yes, participants in a similar programme would, by definition, be more likely to have linking items.Even so, I’ve seen group pieces that were jarringly at odds. (Partly why I avoid being part of such things!)
    The “Windows” book and the “colours” books both stir my lazy gene.Hmmm….

    Also…delighted to find that you were able to sit and write this. Go! Ellen.

    • Hi Di! Always good to hear from you. Not only did I find time to post, but I did it from San Francisco. (Hmmm… perhaps that’s why I did have time?) More on that later… :-)

  4. What great books!
    I saw a movie you might be interested in ~ A Hijacking, Danish film from 2012 or 2013. Starring our guys Soren and Pilou. Pilou (Kasper) was especially terrific, a very different role for him.
    Hope you’re doing well.

    • Oooooo!! More good Danish entertainment! I think you’d like the book I’m reading now. It’s Danish… Details later… I’m actually in the middle of a workshop. (It’s lunch—even so, I feel pathetic tapping away!)

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