Anna Bjerger Book by Bedow, Sweden
Opinion by Richard Baird.
Anna Bjerger is a Swedish artist, born 1973 in Skallsjö, now living and working in Älmhult. Through a process of reconfiguring found imagery, bought from secondhand stores and garage sales, by transforming their context and reordering hierarchy with paint and a focus on dimension, Anna intends to intensify experience and create new narratives.
Swedish design studio Bedow were commissioned to design Anna Bjerger’s book of works 2013—2017. This was published by Galleri Magnus Karlsson, David Risley Gallery and Kristianstads konsthall in conjunction with her solo exhibition Familiar Shadows.
The book is a limited edition hardback of 104 pages and 155×225 mm in size. It includes texts by Karl Ove Knausgård and Karin Faxén Sporrong. Only 600 copies were available with 50 of these signed and presented in a numbered box marked by the artist’s fingerprints.
Anna Bjerger’s paintings often work together the anonymous and the familiar, they create new narratives by adjusting focus through cropping, colour, soft brush strokes and dimension. As a partly curatorial process, Anna often finds an accidental “art” in the colour of a dress or the composition of image, either caught in a moment and unintended or the product of commercial rather than artistic intentions, yet noticed and drawn out through the layered and material qualities of paint.
Bedow’s approach to the Anna Bjerger book appears to channel similar ideas. It makes a connection with the photographs and curatorial process that are the basis of Anna’s work in the familiar and universal qualities of photo albums and journals. This can been seen in the embossed leather of the cover, in the layout of pages, and the personable and spontaneous annotated qualities of a script. It makes a connection with the material and artistic qualities brought to photographs in the use of embossed boards, uncoated dyed papers and edge painted and block foil print finish.
There is a strong idiosyncratic quality to the tall characters of the script, the irregular texture of its lines and inconsistency of characters. There is a communicative immediacy and personal quality to this, which also offers contrast to the more formal, contemporary gallery-like typesetting of insight, and functions to deliver a visual break between titles and body copy.
The numbered boxes, limited to 50, have a utility in the robustness and untreated unbleached qualities of material, weight and stapled construction. It calls to mind the boxes that might be used to hold loose, anonymous printed artefacts in a thrift store, or unclaimed photographs.
Here, value is in the conceptual, and in the closeness to artist, rather than a simple material beauty. It feels like a reference to the origins of Anna’s work, the quickly labelled box of loose photos at a thrift store, the discovery and personal interpretation of these made by artist expressed in the finger prints. There is also a pleasing graphical quality to the cover, in its contrast to the colour and mixed material qualities of the book inside.
Cover image appears to play with the idea of a conventional portrait, particularly in its relationship to name and the personal idiosyncratic qualities of type, yet, this is ultimately challenged by the context of Anna’s work, which often uses the anonymous.
The is a pleasant synergy between book design and the work and process of Anna Bjerger. It is not blunt in its concept, but the ideas are discernible. There is a interesting material quality, in line with her work, but this is really elevated by ideas that allude to the personal, the anonymous, and changing contexts. More work by Bedow on BP&O.
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