Art by the Book: Regina Joseph, Contextual Librarian

Regina Joseph.jpgThe medium is the message is the medium is the…it all gets rather messy these days, but Regina Joseph brings a fresh eye to the quintessential McLuhanism with her new mixed media installation, now on view in the Urbanity on Paper group show we told you about a couple of weeks ago. Joseph, best known as one of the creators of Blender magazine, calls this work a “contextual library,” which seems appropriate given that it is comprised of 45 books tiled on a wall of New York’s Anna Kustera gallery.

“They are collections for a world in which the printed word is a dying art form,” says Joseph of her bookish installations. “The books form a narrative tableau,” in which the arrangement of say, a book about the artist William Hogarth takes on new meaning when juxtaposed with tomes by sociologist of fear Mike Davis and Online Dating for Dummies. “There is also a decorative aspect to each library,” Joseph tells us. “The books form an overall pattern.” And the shape of this particular piece, heavy on architecture books and titles such as How to Become a Power Agent in Real Estate? “It suggests ‘erection,'” says Joseph. “Both with regard to buildings as well as the obvious phallic implication.” Adding a certain wistfulness is the installation’s subtitle: “Marshall McLuhan, I Miss You.”