Museum exhibit catalogs really are hit-or-miss affairs. For every stunning piece of print craft there are half a dozen unimaginative booklets that look like they were hammered together in shop class 10 minutes before the final bell. That’s definitely not the case with Underline Studio’s guide to Toronto artist Derek Sullivan’s show “The Missing Novella.” Sullivan “staged Gairloch estate—formerly a private home—as a stylized country house inspired by well-known fictional settings, such as E.M. Forster’s Howards End and Belle Ombre, the home of Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley.” (To give you an even better idea of what the exhibit is all about, we’ll take a quick peek inside the catalog first…)
“Continuing the exhibition’s presentation of refracted, oblique narratives, the catalog itself only feels and appears to be a book,” the studio explains. “Upon opening, the reader finds that it is in fact empty, with the essays and images only discovered when the book cover is unfolded.”
In our obsessively-ordered, click-the-link society, this is an intriguing piece of design. Yes, the artist’s bio is straightforward enough, but those words on the left – disturbing in and of themselves (rope, shovel…grave?!!) – are positively eerie thanks to the way they seem to slither in from that fold on the left.
With the catalog fully open we can breathe a little easier now. The pull quote on the left is still much too close to the edge for us nervous types, but we can easily turn our attention to the obligatory, explanatory text. Still, a quick look at the accompanying photographs suggests that this piece may be a damn sight more interesting than the exhibit it wants to tell us about.
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