Detail of “In Conversation”, sculptural book art by H. Kurzke 2018

Books and writing are magic, utter magic. Just think about it: there’s nothing but paper, possibly bound to form pages; they are smudged in an orderly manner with regular marks: something very material. Or maybe someone holds a screen where some areas light up, and others remain dark in a carefully designed pattern. Readers will examine these marks, — and suddenly they burst into laughter or cry, get angry or enlightened… – and not by the marks as such, but something more and immaterial. Studying these marks is like a magic ritual that conjures up a voice in their head that telling them stories or giving them information. But unlike the writing, which is a physical thing, the process of reading and understanding is abstract, hidden in our brains.

Landscapes I, H. Kurzke 2018

I identify mainly as a book artist. This is a very broad topic, and there are probably as many definitions of what book art is as there are book artists.

A book in this context is for me a piece of artwork that has a topic (so won’t be a blank journal) which is not immediately accessible (has a cover or is boxed in a way, so is not a painting on a wall) and that requires reader interaction to be fully appreciated (pages have to be turned, flaps to be pulled…). I strive to bring text, imagery, and book form together so that they together form the piece of work, and only all those elements together can give the finished work its whole meaning.

flight-detail, bird feet, artwork by H. Kurzke, 2019
Detail of paper sculpture “Flight”, H. Kurzke 2019

In my recent body of work I have been interested in the maternal, and the language we use with women who are or recently were pregnant, how we see and deal pregnant women in society. And with it I am interested in what’s hidden and what’s plain, what’s inside and what’s outside. And when is it worth to destroy an object to get to see what’s inside?

Absences and a message in a bottle on display during an exhibition in 2018 at Beeston Library, UK

In “346. A Journey While Staying as Still as Possible”, I examine women’s loss of rights over their own body during pregnancy and the tight prescription of acceptable emotions.

Milk and Blood and Thing with Feathers is a multi-media object, with a life-sized sculpture of a pregnant woman’s lower body, together with my words (a short poem with the same title),  and natural sounds.

Detail of “346. A Journey While Staying As Still As Possible”, copy 1, H. Kurzke 2017

My Project Message in a Bottle has been an ongoing art project since 2013. I view these filled bottles as pieces of book art in that they have to be handled to discover the contents in writing and imagery. And in putting a piece of work into a small bottle and sending it on its way, reaching out to an unknown finder of the message, leaving it to them to decode and discover the contents, this work combines all the aspects of my work mentioned above.

paper mache spheres, 2018 and ongoing