VOL. 4
Cover Works

The works recent work (1996) and Something else (1998), like their precursor Melvin Cover (1993), are part of a series of conceptual trompe-l’œil pieces that examine the perception and function of exhibition catalogues and monographs in the contemporary art world. Slipped over printed matter by other artists, the various book jackets are presented on ordinary display furniture such as bookshelves and reading tables. Although their titles already point to the relation between cover and content, that relation becomes fully apparent to the beholder only when the work is taken into use.

The design of recent work, which was created in 1996 in the context of the exhibition Radikale Bilder: 2. Österreichische Triennale zur Fotografie, is based on the hosting institution’s corporate design and an enlarged detail from the work Untitled (The Artist at Work) #1 (1994), which shows a portrait of the artist. The title of the of book jacket edition Something else, produced in 1998, also refers to the New York-based avant-garde publisher Something Else Press, which built its reputation on putting out artist’s books and volumes of concrete poetry as well as its strategy of disseminating progressive content disguised by conventional-looking covers.

The Hardcore Editions, manufactured in 1998 as a special edition of the three cover pieces, replace the catalogues with “neutral” content in the form of a white wooden board. They also come in a glossy wrapper. Put on display in glass cases, they exemplify the paradox that emerges when books are presented in museums: viewers usually cannot see more of the publications on view than their covers. The only thing that identifies the Hardcore Editions as works of art in that sort of setting is the specification of the materials on the label, which is itself part of the work.

From: Klaus Scherübel, “Cover Works,” in Sabine Folie, ed., + QUE 20 ANS APRÈS (Vienna, Generali Foundation / Berlin, Sternberg Press, 2015); translated from the German by Geritt Jackson

"Melvin Cover (Display of the Inspection Copies)", 1993. Offset printed dust jackets on various exhibition catalogues, bookshelf, dimensions variable. Installation view, Galerie Theuretzbacher, Vienna, 1993
"recent work", 1996. Offset printed dust jacket, 27 x 21 x 2 cm
"recent work (Display of the Inspection Copies)", 1996. Dust jacket on various catalogues edited by the Neue Galerie Graz, 13 publications at the gallery bookstore have been covered during the exhibition, dimensions of installation variable. Installation view, "Radikale Bilder. 2. Österreichische Triennale zur Fotografie 1996 / Radical Images. 2nd Austrian Triennale on Photography 1996", Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, 1996
"Melvin Cover (Hardcore Edition)", 1993-1998. Offset printed dust jacket, wood, paint, cellophane, 29,7 x 21 x 2 cm
"recent work (Hardcore Edition)", 1996-1998. Offset printed dust jacket, wood, paint, cellophane, 27 x 21 x 2 cm
"Something else (Hardcore Edition)", 1998. Offset printed dust jacket, wood, paint, cellophane, 29,7 x 21 x 2 cm
"Melvin Cover (Hardcore Edition)", 1993-1998; "recent work (Hardcore Edition)", 1996-1998; "Something else (Hardcore Edition)", 1998. Installation view, S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst Gent, Ghent, 2009, photo: S.M.A.K./Dirk Pauwels