As part of the Spineless Wonders project, a knowledge base introduces spineless material from the collections of the participating libraries. You can already explore a range of material from Senate House Library’s collections; the content will grow over the course of the project’s first year. Currently, among other items, there are examples of artists’ books produced by Theresa Easton for the Library’s Queer Between the Covers exhibition that use different spineless formats to tell LGBTQ+ history; a selection of pamphlets produced by London community presses, selected from the Ron Heisler Collection of left-wing politics and radical movements; and an example of medieval ‘recycling’ with a manuscript that re-uses fragments of other manuscript material in the construction of its binding. These items reflect different aspects and approaches to spineless material and how content and textual objects are produced, used and presented.
Spineless Wonders: First Event, November 2021
The first event took place in November 2021, during which the spineless productions covered across the sessions ranged from ancient Egyptian ostraca (pot shards used as a writing surface) and fragments of medieval manuscript to spineless books in boxes produced by artists and the use and reuse of korsan kitap (pirated publications) by students in Turkey.
SHL and the IES convened the first panel of the day, which was chaired by Gustavo Grandal Montero, the Tate’s Library Collections and Engagement Manager, and focussed on artists’ books with a particular emphasis on how these textual creations, which so often play and experiment with the form of the book, either enable or disrupt the act of reading. The discussion was wide-ranging and provocative. Sarah Bodman highlighted how we might interact with books through non-linear reading and participatory projects that explore books, reading and memory; Karen Sandhu focussed on Susan Hillier’s After the Freud Museum (which added objects to the spineless mix) and considered its role as both archive and installation; Gill Partington presented a range of ‘books in boxes’ and questioned the relationship between a book’s inside and outside; and Egidija Ciricaite discussed her artistic practice and explored the role of the ‘spine’ in relation to her poetic book works.
Spineless Wonders: Forthcoming Events, February and May 2022
There are two online Spineless Wonders events this year, with broad themes as follows:
• February 18th: Community presses; Multilingualism and translation; Ephemera and the environment
• May 13th: Queer publishing; Digital forms of the book and the archive; Roundtable and making a global book.
SHL and the IES are again convening the first panels of each event, on Community Presses and Queer Publishing. Details of speakers and booking information will be available shortly before each event so keep an eye on the Spineless Wonders website and the SHL and IES Twitter feeds.