24 dummy books
Temporary installation for the duration of the exhibition:
Institute of Psychology, University of Münster
Institute of Botany, University of Münster
16 different bookshops in the centre of Münster, incl.:
Buchhandlung Josef Thiele, Prinzipalmarkt 32
Rosta Buchladen, Aegidiistraße 12
Regensbergsche Buchhandlung, Alter Steinweg 1
Buchhandlung Schöningh, Bült 7–11
University bookshop Krüper, Frauenstraße 42
University bookshop Coppenrath & Boeser, Bäckergasse 3
Fantastische Bücher, Königsstraße 12
Buchhandlung Ferdinand Coppenrath, Prinzipalmarkt 28
Buchhandlung Poertgen-Herder, Salzstraße 56
* 1948 in Vancouver, Canada
† 2022 in Vancouver, Canada
In 1987 Rodney Graham placed 24 copies of the first edition of Friedrich Hildebrand’s monograph Die Gattung Cyclamen L.1 (The Genus Cyclamen L.) in the shop windows of various bookshops in Münster. In addition, visitors also had the opportunity to view the botanical treatise from 1898 in display cases in the Institute of Psychology and the Institute of Botany at the University of Münster. In contrast to the original, the pages in Graham’s books were blank: only their covers manifested the same antiquated aesthetic as the prototype. The subtle intervention in the window displays of the bookshops was inspired by a passage from Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams.2 In “The dream of the botanical monograph” the Austrian psychoanalyst describes how he caught sight of Hildebrand’s book in a bookshop window while he was out walking in Vienna. This prompted a train of associations that in fact had nothing to do with the content of the treatise. But Graham’s installation is equally not concerned with the results of Hildebrand’s research. Instead, the facsimile book dummies of The Genus Cyclamen L. were intended to stimulate reflection on our viewing habits in an urban setting and prompt us to think about the relationship between form and content. Like many of the Canadian artist’s book objects these dummy books displayed around Münster defied legibility. The focus lay not on their function as vehicles for ideas but on their visual and haptic appearance.3
Sarah Kristin Happersberger
1 Friedrich Hildebrand, Die Gattung Cyclamen L., Jena, 1898.
2 Cf. Rodney Graham, “Projekt: Cyclamen”, in: Klaus Bußmann and Kasper König (eds.), Skulptur Projekte in Münster 1987, exhib. cat. Westfalisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kuturgeschichte, Münster, Cologne, 1987, pp. 109–112. In numerous works Graham explores Freud’s studies on human consciousness. On the role of psychoanalysis in Graham’s work cf. eg.: Lynn Cooke, “A can of worms”, in: Grant Arnold, Jessica Bradley and Cornelia Butler (eds.), Rodney Graham. A little thought, exhib. cat. Art Gallery of Ontario (et al.), Toronto, 2004, pp. 62–71.
3 In this context Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes makes reference, among others, to Graham’s reading machines and book display cases: cf. Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, “Literature and what an artist does with it”, in: Friedrich Meschede (ed.), Rodney Graham: Through the forest, exhib. cat. Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (et al.), Ostfildern, 2010, p. 82.
- Still existing / Public Collection
- In the museum