Elisabeth Tonnard

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Inexistent Books at I Never Read

Inexistent Books is currently taking place at I Never Read, Art Book Fair Basel. Curated by Jan Steinbach, it questions the invisible in times of contemporary hypervisibility and explores the utopian potential of the art book. To this end artists have submitted publications for the ephemeral Book Shop that deal with non-existence or the outright refusal to exist at all. Among them are works by: Bia Bittencourt, Cassie Thornton, Christiane Blattmann, Claudia De La Torre, Elisabeth Tonnard, Fiona Banner, Florence Jung, H.P. Blavatsky & Sun Ra and others.

See the full list of exhibitors and detailed program of the fair on ineverread.com.

Opening hours
Thursday and Friday 3pm — 9pm
Saturday and Sunday 11am — 5pm

Schaulager, Laurenz-Stiftung
Ruchfeldstrasse 19
4142 Basel/Münchenstein

Written by Elisabeth Tonnard

September 18, 2020 at 3:47 pm

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Dichters in de Prinsentuin

A post in Dutch about this poetry festival that took another shape this year, including clues about where my poems can be heard in the landscape.

Meer dan zestig dichters zouden dit jaar optreden in de Groningse Prinsentuin. Hun gedichten zijn nu bij wijze van alternatief tot 1 september te horen via de VERS-app in de Prinsentuin en op talloze fietsknooppunten in de provincie. De app is te downloaden in de Google Play Store en de Apple App Store. Instructies voor het downloaden, installeren en gebruiken van de app staan hier.


Mijn korte gedicht ‘Tegen de avond’ is te horen op een locatie bij de Waddenzee. ‘Ons gesprek’ aan een weg in Paterswolde. De locaties lijken me nogal in contrast met de inhoud van de gedichten, wat misschien juist wel goed is. Een kleine verbeelding schuift voor een moment over het landschap.

Van alle dichters is er een gedicht opgenomen in de digitale festivalbundel. Men kan ook een verrassingsdoos bestellen met bundels, gedichten etc.

Written by Elisabeth Tonnard

August 5, 2020 at 3:03 pm

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Recently the book Foto-Objekte (Photo Objects) was published, for which I wrote a short essay-with-photos titled ‘More Than A Few Glimpses Of Its Charms’ documenting this work.

The book, which is mostly in German, brings together contributions about work on and with “photo objects” from four photo archives in Berlin and Florence. This compilation is supplemented by the perspectives of various artists (Johannes Braun & Toby Cornish, Ola Kolehmainen, Joachim Schmid, Elisabeth Tonnard, Akram Zaatari).

Some info from the press release:

In ordinary conversation and frequently in scientific jargon, photographs are referred to as images. Usually, they are only perceived as surfaces. But aren’t they a great deal more?

Photographs are constantly being handed around, written on, cut up, framed, pasted on boxes on into albums, printed out and mailed in envelopes, swiped on smartphones, or uploaded onto the Internet. They are exchanged, thrown away, sometimes torn up or deleted. Photographs are not just images, but material objects as well. They are not only looked at, they are also handled.

Archeologists, anthropologists, ethnologists, and art historians began working with photographs in the nineteenth century, collecting them in archives. Mechanically produced images promised objectivity. Based on this supposedly neutral evidence, scientists developed their own methods and practices that remain fundamental to this day, with some now digitalized. Precisely because of their lasting importance, these practices must always be questioned in both their historical and contemporary dimensions. It was archival procedures, such as ordering, notating, and classifying, which first made photographs useful documents for research. Therefore, photographs are neither objective, nor timeless: rather, they have stories of their own. In order to be able to tell these stories, we have to consider photographs as objects, not just as images. These are the methodical, theoretical propositions behind the Foto-Objekte (Photo Objects) project and the essays in this eponymous volume. They deal with the visual contents of the photographs, as well as the boxes they come in, their stamps, inscriptions, spots, blemishes, and other traces of their functionality and how they were used over time.

Kerber Verlag
ISBN 978-3-7356-0477-4
22,00 × 28,00 cm
240 Pages
Hardcover, bound
Languages: German, English (partly)

Julia Bärnighausen, Costanza Caraffa, Stefanie Klamm, Franka Schneider, Petra Wodtke

Texts by
Julia Bärnighausen, Johannes Braun, Costanza Caraffa, Toby Cornish, Ute Dercks, Almut Goldhahn, Stefanie Klamm, Ola Kolehmainen, Nora Riediger, Joachim Schmid, Franka Schneider, Elisabeth Tonnard, Petra Wodtke, Akram Zaatari

Written by Elisabeth Tonnard

July 22, 2020 at 3:44 pm

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Exhibition at Tartu Art Museum

While I’m traveling through my garden and through books, sitting with birds looking at a glorious sky of fewer airplanes, my work somehow travels out, which at the moment feels quite miraculous. I hope you who read this are also doing well. This is a small update concerning the exhibition ‘Silver Girls. Retouched History of Photography’, in which my print series and artist book The Library will be on view. Curators Šelda Puķīte and Indrek Grigor have managed to put this exhibition about lost, damaged, neglected photographs/visual heritage on with only the slightest of delays. The focus is on a selection of works by ten early women photographers from Estonia and Latvia. These vernacular works are contrasted with the works of three contemporary European artists who contemplate the lost and the neglected in our visual history. More information about the show can be found here.

Works by early women photographers from Latvia and Estonia: Antonija Heniņa, Minna Kaktiņa, Lūcija Alutis-Kreicberga, Emīlija Mergupe, Marta Pļaviņa, Olga Dietze, Helene Fendt, Anna Kukk, Hilja Riet, Lydia Tarem.
Contemporary works by: Nanna Debois Buhl, Sami van Ingen, Elisabeth Tonnard.

Tartu Art Museum
Raekoja plats 18,
Tartu, 51004

The exhibition runs from June 12 to September 27.


Unknown Photographer. A group of women from the Women Member’s Committee of the Latvian Photographic Society during the observation of the solar eclipse, 1914. From the collection of the Latvian Museum of Photography.

Written by Elisabeth Tonnard

June 9, 2020 at 5:40 pm

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Indirections #10

More news, pamphlet #10 is now available within the series Indirections.

The series focuses on the manoeuvring involved when ideas are presented to the public eye with the aim of persuasion. Whether we look at Soviet propaganda or at minor deceits in the local newspaper: things are bent, spun and twisted. The series presents found image-and-caption combinations from books, leaflets and newspapers. Each item in the series is a folded sheet containing a single found image with its caption. The caption is on the front, the image is hidden inside.

More details about the pamphlets and now also a complete overview can be found here.

The pamphlets are priced at €7,50. Order through the webshop or by email.

Written by Elisabeth Tonnard

October 30, 2019 at 1:14 pm

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A History of Dogma


I’m happy to announce my newest book: A History of Dogma.

It is based on a book about the history of dogma (a 1951 copy of Walther Köhler’s Dogmengeschichte) that I came upon at a second-hand booksale in my hometown. This book, it was clear, had been expertly read by its previous owner. The markings left by this most dutiful reader, who essentially created a new history of dogma, are presented here.

The edition is limited to 75 numbered copies and the books are handmade. I printed them myself for color and reproduction accuracy, and bound them by hand using cold glue, a few tools and a lot of patience. It did occur to me at times that the stubborn working methods behind this very simple but highly labor-intensive book were mirroring or even outdoing the activity of the anonymous reader whose marks I was preserving.

See more images here.

The book is priced at € 50,- plus shipping. Order through email or through the webshop. Or pick up a copy at my table at the Small Publishers Fair in London on November 15/16.

Inkjet print, full color. Perfect bound paperback, cover of embossed paper, 14 x 21 cm. 114 pages.



Written by Elisabeth Tonnard

October 29, 2019 at 1:52 pm

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Small Publishers Fair London

SPF 2019 A4 ecard

On November 15 and 16 I’ll be participating in the Small Publishers Fair in London for the first time. My new book A History of Dogma will be launched there, details about the book will follow soon. There will also be a selection of my other books available, including the full set of Indirections, which if the printer delivers on time should by then number 10 pamphlets.

Practical details about the fair can be found here, and an overview of participants here. There will be an exhibition connected to the fair and a program of talks.

Opening hours:
Friday 15 and Saturday 16 November from 11 AM to 7 PM.
There is free admission.

Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL

Written by Elisabeth Tonnard

October 15, 2019 at 3:21 pm

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Exhibition Walt Whitman’s Words

Song of Myself will be on view in the exhibition ‘Walt Whitman’s Words: Inspiring Artists Today’ at the Center for Book Arts in New York City. The show was curated by Deirdre Lawrence and runs from October 3 to December 14.

More info to be found here on the site of the Center for Book Arts.

2019 is the 200th birthday year of Walt Whitman (1819-1892). In addition to his work as a poet, Whitman is also remembered as a book designer and printer, essayist and journalist. The Center for Book Arts is marking this bi-centennial by looking at how Whitman’s writings have influenced contemporary artists working in the book arts. ‘Walt Whitman’s Words: Inspiring Artists Today’ follows several themes Whitman focused on in his writings, providing the connective tissue that links these works together. Geography, history, identity and immigration are a few themes that emerge from the works of art on view. Whitman’s fascination with Ancient Egypt, photography as a branding tool, and his notion of the world as he imagined it are all evident in the art on view. These diverse objects range from books, drawings, photographs, sketches, broadsides and a scroll.

Artists include: Isabel Baraona, Sasha Chavchavadze, Allen Crawford, Marianne Dages, Brian Dettmer, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Evelyn Eller, Anne Gilman, Donald Glaister, Sam Gordon, Barbara Henry, Meg Hitchcock, Timothy Hull and Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Sam Ita, Stefan Killen, Richard Kostelanetz, Karen Kunc, Sophia Le Fraga, Angela Lorenz, Russell Maret, Barry McCallion, Mark McMurray, Susan Newmark, Ilse Schreiber-Noll, Brian Selznick, Clarissa Sligh, Peter Spagnuolo, Elisabeth Tonnard, Walt Whitman, Rutherford Witthus, Marilyn Zornado.

The Center for Book Arts
28 West 27th St, 3rd Flr
New York, NY 10001

Written by Elisabeth Tonnard

September 30, 2019 at 2:59 pm

The PhotoBook Review


For those interested in image-text works, see the new PhotoBook Review (#16, Spring 2019) published by Aperture and guest-edited by Federica Chiocchetti. If you turn to the centerfold you’ll find a collaboration by Jason Fulford and myself.

Written by Elisabeth Tonnard

August 14, 2019 at 3:30 pm

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Indirections #9

A new pamphlet was published within the series Indirections. It is #9 in this series of image-text pamphlets.

The series focuses on the manoeuvring involved when ideas are presented to the public eye with the aim of persuasion. Whether it’s the deceptions of Soviet propaganda or the minor deceits that I find in my local newspaper, things are bent and spun and twisted into what the powers that be want us to believe. The series demonstrates this by showing found image-and-caption combinations from books, leaflets and newspapers. Each item in the series is a folded sheet containing a single found image with its caption. The caption is on the front, the image is hidden inside. By uncoupling them, the two elements are each given their own stage – as a result a new space opens up between them. In that space a small tragicomedy is played out. It appears that at times images can be a bit stubborn and reveal slightly different truths from the ones implied by the words coupled to them.

More details about the pamphlets can be found here. Johan Velter recently wrote about the series in this post on his blog (in Dutch).

The #9 pamphlet can now be ordered, copies of #1 to 8 are still available as well. They are priced at €7,50. Order through the webshop or by email. A flat fee for shipping applies.


Written by Elisabeth Tonnard

August 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

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