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A little more on the project

The exhibition Transgressions and boundaries of the page forms part of a creative project and transdisciplinary investigation into the artist’s book and practice-based research. (Transgressions and boundaries of the page: a transdisciplinary exploration of a practice-based research project by means of the artist’s book.)


The project entails the involvement of approximately 40 artists in creating artist’s books. Participants will include established and upcoming artists who practice within the fields of visual arts (fine arts, graphic design, illustrators), creative writing (poets, novelists, children’s books authors), as well as related fields of architecture and language technology.

The creative outputs will be exhibited in a group exhibition at the Word Festival in Stellenbosch during March 2010 as well as at the North-West University Gallery Potchefstroom and FADA Gallery, UJ. A catalogue will also form part of the exhibition and project.

Institutions that are involved through participation of artists and researchers are: NWU, UJ, UP, UFS, TUT, Vega, The Open Window, Beeld, Nasboek, Lapa-Publishers.

Artist’s books function outside the constraints of the publishing industry, and tend to be based on individual artistic vision, conceptualisation and execution. It is therefore the ideal medium to involve artists from diverse disciplines through playful exploration and discovery of the possibilities and boundaries of the book. We foresee a number of innovative artist’s books in diverse media, which will invite readers to (re)discover the book as artifact creatively.

The aims of this project are to provide a space for practitioners to pursue their creativity, resulting in creative outputs and also to facilitate and deliver formal research outputs.


The project makes provision for

    1. Artists who want to pursue their creativity by making an artist’s book;
    2. Artists who want to do research on their own creative practice;
    3. Researchers who want to reflect on the creative process, concepts and results;
    4. Collaboration between artists and researchers to the mutual benefit of both.


Creative practitioners often participate in interdisciplinary multi-practitioner creative projects, for example themed group exhibitions, collaborative writing projects, performance poetry and performance art. However, these projects are rarely managed or conceptualised with a view to generate research findings. The project Transgressions and boundaries of the page aims to create a space for artists and artists/researchers to pursue their creativity and produce creative work while also being directly or indirectly involved with research.


Specifically, this research is in the realm of the emerging field that has been coined practice-based research. Practice-based research refers to creative work in a number of disciplines (fine art, graphic design, creative writing, performing arts) characterised by its reliance on artistic activities and creative outputs. These strategies are growing in popularity and sophistication, especially in terms of individual research. Practice-based research internationally is also characterised by collaborative efforts and the value thereof is increasingly recognised. It is argued by the UK Council for Graduate Education (2001) that practice-based research will develop more rapidly if there is a cross-institutional fertilisation as well as cross-disciplinary co-operation. This would also generate original work across sub-discipline boundaries.


In South Africa, the notion of practice-based research in still in a developmental phase, and is being debated from various perspectives - for example the issue of recognising creative outputs as research by the Department of Education. It is therefore in the interest of practice-based research in South Africa to develop an interdisciplinary project, which will lead to an understanding of the management of collaborative practice-based research and in the process also empower creative individuals to formalise their practice as research.


Transgressions and boundaries of the page: a transdisciplinary exploration of a practice-based research project by means of the artist’s book is a research project in the Research Unit: Languages and Literature in the SA Context and in the proposed (developing) research niche for Visual Culture. This project follows in the footsteps of the successful Tracking Creative Creatures, which was conducted at the Potchefstroom Campus of North-West University in 2007 and 2008.