Introduction by Michael Thompson, Chair, Award Committee
New York, January 24, 2015
Jack Ginsburg, a noted collector of artists’ books from South Africa, is a person old enough to have lived most of his life during the apartheid regime in his home country. In a presentation he made recently, not too far from here at a conference sponsored by the Center for the Book Arts, he commented that during the apartheid era when he returned home to South Africa from abroad he was always asked by immigration authorities two questions:
Do you have any guns?
Do you have any books?
Both, it seems were viewed as threats to the authoritarian regime.
In the hands of an individual not controlled by the state a printing press is a weapon, and we in the American Printing History Association should not forget that. We should not let the first word in our title, “American,” make us complacent, or allow us to forget the challenges faced by others like us living in political environments that are suspicious of, and actually hostile to, the uncensored printed word.
In a country where fine printing and historic printing techniques were almost entirely eradicated under communism, the Book Art Museum in Łódź has taken on the important role of ensuring the continuity of the art of fine printing. They restore and preserve vintage printing equipment, cultivate printing skills, and perform outreach to the community. The museum originated from Correspondance des Arts, a small press started by the husband and wife team of artists Janusz and Jadwiga Tryzno in 1980, at a time when the Tryznos were actively involved in underground printing for the Solidarity movement. Their press became a Foundation in 1990, and in 1993 the Tryznos opened the Book Art Museum in Łódź.
Currently the Correspondance des Arts publishes artists’ books with original graphic material and with unconventional bindings of various sizes and shapes, but always related to the history of the book. The press makes books that question the intersection of various artistic disciplines, like images, sounds, and motion, and such books then experiment with the relationship between and among them. These books and many artists’ books made by other artists and presses are collected in the Book Art Museum where they are used for lectures, presentations, and educational meetings.
The 2015 winner of the institutional award from the American Printing History Association is the Book Art Museum of Łódź represented by Jadwiga Tryzno.