© ifa Galerie Berlin

In this exhibition of a selection of Russian and Ukrainian artist books from Reinhard Grüner’s collection, the ifa Gallery Friedrichstraße points to another facet of artistic creation in Eastern European countries. Unique books as well as editions by 10 artists are on display including books by Mikhail Karasik, Julia Kissina, Oleg Dergachev and Sergei Yakunin, who are already known beyond their national borders and whose books are included in many international collections.

Artist books have a rich tradition in Russia, which the artists consciously continue in. We are showing works from the 1990s, when the political landscape changed completely and artists no longer had to use books to express political subversiveness. The content has changed and is no longer, or hardly ever, directly political, but nevertheless always includes a reference to current social conditions and changes in terms of content and design.

The artists’ joy in fabulating and in coming up with imaginative ideas is striking, as is their almost manic seeming way of working, which gives the impression that they are notable to stop until the last empty space is filled and level of meaning has been stacked onto level of meaning. Text and pictorial design merge into a unity.

The Russian author Daniel Charms, whose absurd wit as well as the lapidary scurrility of his beautiful, horrible stories and of his biography are exemplary of today’s perception of time in Russia, enjoys great popularity among artists.

We would like to thank Reinhard Grüner, who selected the artist books for this exhibition from his collection, for his excellent cooperation.