By Rhea D’Souza
What is Book Art? “Anything,” says Dorothea Fleiss, curator of the 4th European International Book Art Biennale (EIBAB) on exhibition at IFFI 2016, in the historic Maquinez Palace. She elaborates, “it could be a painting of a book, a sculpture from the book. Some artists use the book as a base for their art. Some even collaborate with the authors of the book. But what’s important is that it is an artist’s interpretation of whatever they want ‘book art’ to be. Every piece here is unique and experimental.”
Fleiss is particularly pleased with the location of the exhibition in the Old Goa Medical College precinct (the first medical college in Asia). “The venue is great! As an art therapist, I think it’s important to bridge the gap between medicine and art. 90 percent of the artists participating in the EIBAB donate their art work to help raise money for underprivileged children. In Europe parents don’t have time for their children and that’s where the problems begin.”
This is the first time the EIBAB has come to Asia. “I wish more artists from India would participate,” says Fleiss, who first came to India for an arts residency, where she met Yolanda de Souza, one of Goa’s most celebrated artists, who says, “Dorothea asked me whether I would like to do a piece of ‘book art’. I actually have a diary from 1986, filled with my writings, poetry and illustrations. I will be unveiling it on the 10th of December. It’s ‘book art’ in itself!”
This year’s EIBAB includes art from around 20 countries. Three Romanian participants travelled to Goa with their work (the last Eibab was hosted in Bucharest). The 2016 biennale theme is ‘Schicksalsraum’ or ‘Destiny and Inner Space’. And that’s exactly what the exhibition feels like, every artist has a very personal story to tell.
Marilena Preda Sanc told The Peacock, “the world has so many problems, but art unites us. My ‘diary of the soul’ is very personal. It’s not for sale”.
Three Goan artists feature in the exhibition: Nirupa Naik, Sonia Rodrigues Sabarwal (who also had her work exhibited at this gallery last year) and Ajay Kothawale. Vinesh Iyer, founder and trustee of the Inspire Trust, one of the key organisers for the event, says that “funds generated from this exhibition will go directly to support underprivileged and special children.”