End November of this year artbook.berlin was organised fort he eigth time in Berlin. Artistbooks have been a part of my work for long time, so I received an invitation to participate in this manifestation.

The artistbook

In our society the book is an important carrier of knowledge. The rise of the social media has caused a change that offers books an opportunity to manifest itself as an autonomous art piece or project. A function it had always had in a way, specially in the sixties and seventies, and that gains new attention nowadays.

In search of identity

Books have always been important in my life. My grandfather in Domburg, in the southwest of The Netherlands, ran the smalltown library. As a child I sometimes accompagnied him on his library evenings. We entered an empty room in the village hall, turned some panels in the wall and there they were. The bookcases. The book has been a good friend since, loyal through the times. Because my works often have intimate sizes, it is easy to switch from a painting to the pages of a book and vice versa. When you see art as a search for identity, the book is of ideal help.


Artbook. berlin is an event for artistbooks and the likes that was held in Kunst Quartier Bethanien, in Kreuzberg Berlin. The exhibition partly finds its roots in the former East Germany, the DDR, where publishing books and expressing your opinion were forbidden. You were allowed however to reproduce artbooks, because they were regarded as a form of art. In these devious ways one could spread his or her own ideas.

This year’s participants included artists, publishers, art initiatives (in some cases post punk) who presented themselves to the cosmopolitan world of the Großstadt Berlin. Outside it became dark after 3.30 in the afternoon, making Berlin a bit uncanny, but inside, the holy light of the book shone. As many as 2,000 visitors walked the giant halls of Bethanien, a former diaconessen hospital on the Mariannenplatz.

This huge attention af the public also reflects in the history of the building. The municipality had planned to tear the building down, but thanks tot he efforts of the community, this great place was saved.

For more images of this manifestation, please check http://artbookberlin2019.blogspot.com/

André Geertse

December 2019

This post is also available in: Dutch