Layered Places: Artists' Books by Kyoko Matsunaga

Curated by Maggie Johnson as part of the Michigan Library Scholars summer internship at the University of Michigan Library.


The University of Michigan Library’s collection includes three Artists’ Books by Japanese artist Kyoko Matsunaga. While different in binding, size and content, the similar themes of the three works demonstrates how Artists’ Books can convey complex ideas about place.

Whether real or imagined, Matsunaga’s books create immersive places and despite their small size, they transport the viewer to a place of her makingFor Matsunaga, Artists’ Books, are a chance to “reassemble [my] memories and give them new meaning. It is like finding a constellation” (Matsunaga, 2016). In addition to memory, her work often focuses on place because, “Any place has personal and social memories and I’m interested in the multi-layered aspect of place” (Matsunaga, 2016). By turning the page to see a half hidden image or rotating the book to see the next subject to jump across the stones, Matsunaga reconstructs her memories to form ideas about place and perception. She compiles and configures memories of places to create new experiences. Matsunaga’s books converge many memories of a single location and layer them to form a distinctly different place.

With this exhibit we hope to overcome some of the obstacles books present using video clips. Kyoko Matsunaga’s books demonstrate this unique art form’s ability to both transcend and utilize traditional book structures to create meaningful and beautiful works of art.