Jerusalem in Exile: Artist’s Books by Kamal Boullata
The late Kamal Boullata was a Palestinian artist best known for his geometric silk screen prints and compositions based on angular Kufi script. His experimentations with artist’s books that began in the 1990s explored the design of graphic space that could reflect the formal elements of poetry. This allowed Boullata to craft artist’s books that became tangible representations of the authors’ poetic voice. The development of a visual system unique to the rhythm of the poetry allowed him to capture the dynamism of text in a way that encouraged the distinction between form and content to vanish. In this sense, readers do not hold a book of poetry, but an artistic embodiment of the words themselves.
Dongola’s collaboration with Boullata on a new artist’s book had been planned for 2019, but his sudden passing transformed the project into a tribute to his work. Designed in honor of his legacy, this book on artist’s books entitled Jerusalem in Exile was launched at Cambridge University in conjunction with a symposium and exhibition of the same name. The edition of 250 brings together critical essays by Elizabeth Key Fowden, Anneka Lenssen, and Claudia Tobin in conversation with a select number of books painted and bound by Boullata. Each catalogue is handcrafted, sprayed, bound and finely wrapped in Japanese calligraphy rice paper in homage to the work and sensibility of the artist.