Catalogue | Linderism

This book uses density and layering to represent the richness of the artist Linder’s practice
Amy Tobin
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Untitled, 1977
Untitled, 1977 Linder Sterling. Courtesy the artist

The visual artist Linder is best known for her photomontages. They are made from print materials mostly gleaned from magazines and books, and often circulate in reproduction.

So when we began putting together a retrospective exhibition of Linder’s work at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, it felt important to also produce a publication.

The result, Linderism, accompanies the exhibition but does not map it. They are parallel projects that share a concern for the expansiveness of Linder’s work, but explore it in different directions. Whereas the display employs different strategies for engaging the viewer, prompting them to look again at Linder’s dense and layered works, the book deploys density and layering to represent the depth, reference and citation of Linder’s practice.

Edited by Amy Tobin, Kettle’s Yard and Koenig Books, £25, ISBN 978-3-96098-768-0

Linder is an expert on print culture. She is a media archaeologist, whose practice is founded on capacious knowledge and a large collection of materials she’s found, been given or searched for. Her work is much admired by book designers and publishers, and Linder has worked closely with several designers over the years.

For this book, we were keen to look for a designer that Linder hadn’t worked with before, someone who also worked across magazines and books, and who was sensitive to the interaction of images.

We found Brussels-based Julie Peeters, who among many other book projects, produces the magazine Bill. This magazine is almost entirely image based.

She uses sequencing, image manipulation and different paper stocks to build rhythm through the publication. This discreet, textured approach felt appropriate to Linder’s work, which also concerns the physical materiality of the printed image, as well as the effect of visual juxtaposition.

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Peeters worked closely with Linder and I, choreographing source materials including reproductions of works, documentation of performances, reference images and even my research photos.

The result is a publication that documents Linder’s work and explores her research process, which winds in many directions from theosophy to shop design, theology to media studies, dance history to alchemy, mythology to scent production.

Rather than artificially order these references, the book has three sections that take ambulatory paths through Linder’s practice. The first and last sections are entirely image based, while the middle section comprises essays by Sarah Victoria Turner, James Boaden, Alyce Mahon and me, addressing different aspects of Linder’s practice: her longstanding interest in the ballet, her connections with surrealism, her summoning of figures from history, and her relationship to feminism and working-class culture.

Each writer approached Linder’s work from their own specialism, evidencing the breadth and richness of her practice. The image sections are not illustrations of the essays or works in the exhibition; they are configured in sequences that trace trajectories through Linder’s work like a film strip.

These images are a guidebook for the artist’s most recent concerns, but they demand time and an attentive reader. Like the exhibition, the book aims to present a concentration of the phenomenal vastness of Linderism.

Amy Tobin is a lecturer in the University of Cambridge’s department of history of art, and curator at Kettle’s Yard

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