Hilke Kurzke ~ England


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Hilke Kurzke: "… my interest in books is not at all limited to the physical properties. Silent books that tell a story without any words are so very fascinating to me! And I have a keen interest in the written word. Written communication is such a powerful technology: Isn't it just like magic, that looking at an abstract pattern can make us weep or laugh out loud, can put ideas in our heads or give advice and guidance? Through my work I want to make my readers rediscover this magic which is the foundation of our culture and daily life and work. Many of my books are therefore not straight forward to read. They contain text hidden in secret compartments, or are written in secret script or code, the pages have holes and the structure of my books may differ from a mainstream notion of a book."
By Hilke Kurzke
Nottingham, England: Büchertiger Studio & Press, 2014. Open, varying edition.

4.25 x 6" (varies slightly with each book); 6 pages. Accordion format. Gesso, handwriting, stencils. Painted boards. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Hilke Kurzke: "This is a small accordion (format of a postcard) with hard covers, stenciled shapes into gesso, and hand-written with coal. It features my short short story absences about paying attention to one's surroundings. I think (and hope) it is funny in a bittersweet way.

"Each copy in this open varying edition is painted and written by hand. Some of the books are made from a light brown paper, others made with black paper … the position of the objects is varying.

"The story features a dialogue in which one of the persons tells another one about strange disappearances of objects from her apartment. In the end she finds out what happened. A surprising story about paying attention to the small things in your life so as not to miss the big things."


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Die Stadt - The City
By Hilke Kurzke
Bonn, Germany: Hilke Kurzke, 2012. Edition of 24.

2 x 1.25"; 20 pages. Miniature flutter book. Text printed in ParmaPetit Font with pigment ink. Pop-up image printed from an original water colored ink drawing. Non adhesive binding (book linen folded - not glued). Laid in matchbox case with ribbon lift. Paper title label on box cover. Bilingual text - German and English. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Hilke Kurzke: "The book contains a very short 'story about a search that failed due to culture shock' in German and English (the whole book is bilingual throughout, from title to blurb). The center spread features a pop-up panel that shows 'the city'."

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The Smiley Oracle
By Hilke Kurzke
Bonn, Germany: Hilke Kurzke, 2009. Edition of 16.

1.875 x 2.375 x 1.5"; 324 pages. 160 handprinted Smiley faces, cut from soft linoleum. Hand bound in a coptic-style binding. Housed in slipcase with laser-printed title. Includes information pamphlet (2.4 x 2.6"; 6 pages) and a paper "choice knife."

Hilke Kurzke: "In my work I investigate how books work, what it is that makes a book a book, what functions and structures are essential for its bookishness and which are not. The Smiley Oracle is the first of my works that comes in an edition; all previous works were one-of-a-kind. The edition is an integral part of this piece, since it investigates how the contents of a book can vary from reader to reader. (And therefore requires several readers.) The Smiley Oracle works like this: You pose a question, you open the book at a random page, and you see a printed smiley face. This face is then interpreted as the oracle answer to your question. Thus it can provide a lot of different 'content' depending on the questions different readers ask, and even for the same question, the answer may be different.

"The Smiley Oracle is a game, an oracle, and a piece of art, investigating the way readers interact with their books."


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Hilke Kurzke Out of Print Title:  
to touch and to cut
By Hilke Kurzke
Bonn, Germany: Hilke Kurzke, 2009. Edition of 20.

2 x 1.75"; one parchment paper strip accordion-folded into 16 symmetrical pages. Line drawings with red felt-tip pen. Pastedowns form pockets that allow accordion ends to be inserted and removed. Boards bound in red book cloth. Parchment wraparound band with title.

Hilke Kurzke: "This book does not seem to be a book in the usual sense at all since its pages cannot be leafed through. Instead a shape opens up that might remind the viewer of a flower. On the white leaves, red lines are visible that add depth to the milky white, shine-through pages. The leaves are part of one long, folded strip of parchment paper that is not attached to the book case and can easily be removed. Taken out of its covers, it becomes apparent that this strip is folded in an ordinary accordion style. Hold the folded block against a light source and you'll see that the red lines across the pages are not random - they are all tangent to (i.e., are touching) a common circle. At the same time (and less apparent) all these lines also cut a larger circle with the same center. In fact, they each cut such circle, and with the circle being not uniquely determined, you cannot 'see' it as the touched circle. These larger circles are invisible, and you have to know they are there to know that the touching lines are also cutting."

Prospectus: "Hilke Kurzke is trained as a mathematician, with a PhD for a work in Geometry. This book is the first in which she tries to show the beauty she sees in abstract mathematics. The investigation of curves and topology, and their presentation in book form are still a work in progress. To touch, and to cut marks the beginning of this journey, and also the beginning of coming to terms with her own biography."



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Page last update: 12.29.18


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