|TRUTH SERUM PRODUCTIONS||
"events by and for big-brained people" since 1995
BOOKMOBILE GOES SOUTH OF THE BORDER TO PROMOTE HANDMADE TOMES
Author: SARAH TOMLINSON
THE SUMMERTIME TRADITION OF PUTTING TIRES TO ASPHALT AND HITTING THE OPEN ROAD IN SEARCH OF ADVENTURE IS A TIME-HONORED AMERICAN RITUAL.
In an off-beat, Canadian twist on that idea, a group of book lovers is hitting the road in a vintage Airstream trailer, touring the US and Canada to show off a collection of one-of-a-kind handmade books, all to showcase the vision and creativity that go into reimagining the idea of the book. The effort, called the Projet Mobilivre-Bookmobile project, rolls into Boston May 28 with all-ages events at several locations. Now in its third year, the project was started by a pair of Canadians, Courtney Dailey and Onya Hogan-Finlay, after viewing an exhibit of handmade books at Concordia University in Montreal, where they were students. Dailey and Hogan-Finlay were struck by how the exhibit was able to attract members of the community who had never ventured into the college's student gallery, and they envisioned a traveling bookmobile that would stop at towns across Quebec, bringing the art of bookmaking to the masses.
Thus inspired, they helped launch the Projet Mobilivre-Bookmobile project collective in 1999 to help make the idea a reality. The idea grew to include the US when a founding member of the collective moved to Philadelphia.
It has since expanded into an annual juried show that celebrates the art of handmade books, which often feature gorgeous, quirky artwork, and fanzines, or 'zines, personality-laden self-publishing ventures usually made on photocopiers.
The Projet Mobilivre-Bookmobile project now includes a jury that whittles 600 annual submissions down to around 300. The books are exhibited inside the Airstream, which has been renovated specially to display them. The books represent a wide array of personalities from across the US and Canada, and the collective is particularly excited about submissions from people who might not otherwise find a way to display their work, like teenagers, or one woman who sent a beautiful handmade book from prison.
"Basically the things we look for are inventiveness of form or content or exploration of the book as an idea," says collective member Lisbeth Pelsue. "So there's a very wide variety of things that are in the bookmobile, and we like it that way."
The exhibit grows throughout the summer, as people in the towns where Projet Mobilivre-Bookmobile project touches down are encouraged to add their own pieces to an unjuried section of the show. The group also spreads the gospel of the bookmaking art form, offering workshops on bookmaking and selling handmade books to help pay their expenses. The exhibit, workshops, and supplies are free.
In Boston, the project is gearing up for an entire weekend of bookish fun. There's a 'zine-making class at the Center for New Words in Cambridge on Friday evening, an accordion and flipbook workshop at the Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge on Saturday, and a bookbinding workshop at the Berwick Research Institute in Roxbury on Sunday. Plus, there'll be a concert at the Zeitgeist Gallery on Saturday night celebrating the four-year anniversary of local rock collective Handstand Command, with live music, home movies, snacks, and a raffle of donated art items, with all proceeds benefiting the bookmobile project.
Organizers hope the weekend events will offer a friendly environment for bookworms of all stripes to come out and play. "I think 'zine people are generally kind of introverted," says Jef Czekaj, who plays with bands that are part of the Handstand Command collective, and who is also a cartoonist with a collection of kids' comics coming out this summer ("Grampa and Julie: Shark Hunters," published by Top Shelf Productions and due in July). "So I'm a big fan of any kind of event that forces them to come up and show themselves."
For more information about the events, visit Truth Serum Productions at www.truthserum.org, or contact email@example.com. All events are all ages. A 'zine-making workshop happens May 28 at 7 p.m. at the Center for New Words, 186 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617-876-5310. The bookmobile is at the Zeitgeist Gallery, 1353 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-876-6060, all day on Saturday with an accordion and flip book workshop at 1 p.m. and a benefit rock show at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 29, suggested donation of $5. A bookbinding workshop happens May 30 at noon at the Berwick Research Institute, 14 Palmer St., Roxbury, 617- 442-4200.