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‘Books, Words, Ideas’ is a presentation of works by 47 artists from across the globe, united by their passion for the artist’s book as a form of creative expression and by their involvement with Jarosław Kozłowski and Andrzej Kostołowski’s NET/Sieć initiative of 1971–72.
Responding to the post-war aftermath of the Iron Curtain, which had created not only an East-West geographical divide but also systemic ideological and cultural borders, Kozłowski and Kostołowski devised the NET Manifesto and mailed it to more than 300 artists and art theorists worldwide. The manifesto called for the abolition of those carefully guarded borders by a free exchange of ideas, projects, artworks, publications and other forms of expression that would also be made accessible outside of the official art circuit. Kozłowski and Kostołowski’s invitation to partake in this open dialogue met with an enthusiastic response.
The works and artists’ books put on display here at Muzeum Susch by Jarosław Kozłowski represent only a fraction of the NET Archive collection, which focuses on the role of text in contemporary art. During the 1970s, artists’ book became recognized not only as a distinct artistic genre but as a powerful tool with which to contest the modernist canon and the institutionalized framework of its dissemination. Text here is not merely a description that supplements the images; nor do the images serve purely as illustration. The fluid identity of these books is the perfect response to Kozłowski and Kostołowski’s call for freedom – for both author and reader alike.