Video: Cason Sharpe | Art Book Show + Tell | Prairie Art Book Fair 2020

What is an art book? Cason Sharpe has been asking that question for several years, and no one has given him a straight answer. He’s been told that it’s a certain type of book, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a book, and it certainly isn’t every book. Cason has been in contact, whether personally, professionally, or artistically, with a number of artist books, as well as the people who make them, their publishers, their distributors, and their collectors. He meets these people at launches and readings and openings and book fairs, but more frequently he meets them over the internet. Some of these people are warm and inviting. Others are sophisticated and clever. Some of these people are pretentious and want nothing to do with Cason, just like the books they produce. Cason doesn’t claim to be an expert about any of this. How do you judge an art book? Depends on which route you take.

On September 11 at 6 pm, Cason discussed a few of his favourite art books, from high-production coffee table tomes to xeroxed, self-published zines. Through an investigation of the conceptual and formal strategies employed by these various titles, Cason attempted to unravel the opaque definition of “art book,” gesturing towards the political potential of the medium along the way.

Cason Sharpe is a writer currently based in Toronto. His fiction and criticism has appeared and is forthcoming in Canadian Art, C MagazinePublic ParkingCleo Journal, Guts Canadian Feminist MagazineBrickPRISM International, and the Hart House Review, among others. His first collection of stories, Our Lady of Perpetual Realness, was published by Metatron Press in 2017. Named a Queer Writer to Watch by THIS Magazine, Cason has presented work at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Vancouver Art Book Fair, and the Hamilton Film Festival. As the Shop and Inventory Manager of Toronto’s Art Metropole, Cason has participated in book fairs in New York, LA, and Tokyo, widening his knowledge of artists’ publications from around the world. He is currently at work on a book of experimental criticism in the form of epistolary nonfiction.

Cason Sharpe’s Our Lady of Perpetual Realness is available here.

This event was presented as part of our 2020 Prairie Art Book Fair.