It seems inherent in the nature of contemporary artist’s book production to continue to question the context for the genre in contemporary art practice, notwithstanding the medium’s potential for dissemination via mass production and an unquestionable advantage of portability for distribution. Artists, curators and editors operating in this sector look to create contexts for books in a variety of imaginative ways, through exhibition, commission, installations, performance and, of course as documentation. Broadening the discussion of the idea of the book within contemporary art practice, this paper examines the presence and role of book works within the context of the art biennale, in particular the Venice Art Biennale of which the 58th iteration (2019) is entitled ‘May You Live In Interesting Times’ and curated by Ralph Rugoff, with an overview of the independent International cultural offerings and the function of the ‘Book Pavilion’. Venetian museums and institutions continue to present vibrant diverse works within the arena of large-scale exhibitions, recognising the position that the book occupies in the history of the city. This year, the appearance for the first time, of ‘Book Biennale’, opens up a new and interesting dialogue, taking the measure of how the book is being promoted and its particular function for visual communication within the arts in Venice and beyond.
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