“It’s about Time,” to open on Sunday, March 1, in the PRESS: Letterpress as a Public Art Project Gallery, at 49 Main St. The public is invited to a free opening reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 1, in the PRESS Gallery, when a book based on the exhibition will be released. Refreshments will be served, and a book raffle will take place for $5 a ticket.
This exhibition, “ILSSA, It’s About Time: A Workbook for the Working Person,” will showcase 48 completed workbooks published by the Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts (ILSSA). ILSSA is an organization for makers who use obsolete technology in conceptual or experimental ways. This socially engaged art project, which consists of a union and a research institute, was founded in 2008 by Bridget Elmer and Emily K. Larned.
For this exhibition, workbooks containing the responses to questions about the concept of time, provided by 48 ILSSA members, will hang on the wall much like paintings. Visitors can take each of the workbooks down to read them, or sit down to go through the responses before clipping each book back up on the wall, explained Melanie Mowinski, an ILSSA member and PRESS Gallery founder.
According to Mowinski, ILSSA is an ongoing and evolving publishing and social practice platform committed to investigating the value of labor. This workbook is the most recent in a series of projects that ask members to reflect upon their process, and to share this reflection with the public.
“I find it really difficult to stop looking at the workbooks,” Larned said. “Our members are really, really funny, smart, insightful, talented and generous, and the longer you look at the workbooks, the more you want to read them all, page by page. And I think that is the value of the show: it asks visitors to settle in, and reflect upon their own relationship with time.”
Larned continued, “The theme of time emerged from an earlier project, the ‘State of the ILSSA Union’ in 2012, where we surveyed our membership on their working conditions as artists. Many members mentioned that the greatest challenge facing their practice was time. The nature of impractical labor is slow. Impractical labor comprises really diverse media – but by definition it prioritizes process over product. Process takes time. You could say the medium of impractical labor is time.”
Larned and Mowinski will print the cover of a compilation book, made up of two pages from every workbook, at PRESS on Saturday, Feb. 28. They will bind the limited edition books at Williams College Museum of Art’s Publication Studio on Sunday, March 1. The Sunday reception in the PRESS Gallery will highlight the newly created compilation books. Sunday’s opening reception will feature a raffle of a dozen of the books made at the Publication Studio.
Larned also will visit two of Mowinski’s classes at MCLA, on Monday, March 2.
In addition to Mowinski’s “Senior Art Project” class, Larned will visit “Text and Image and Book Structures,” an examination of historical page design and how that has evolved over the centuries. The class also will examine books published in Asia, and at innovative book structures where the text is as important as the images.
“ILSSA: It’s about Time” will be on view at PRESS from March 1 through April 26. For more information, contact Mowinski, 413-281-8108 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.letterpressasapublicartproject.wordpress.com.