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A short history of WANDERING

It happened two years ago. I guess in June. It was very warm, although not hot. I was sitting with Alicja Słowikowska on the terrace of one of Warsaw restaurants, we were having tea, maybe ice-cream, surely we were talking about a new edition of Polish Book Art. Alice was considering the possibility to give it a certain topic to make it somehow oriented. And then wandering sneaked into our heads and mouths. Maybe it happened so, because soon I was to take by my car a long road to Finland to bring the exhibition there, to Mikkeli... Or maybe because reading a book is just wandering across the labyrinth of letters, lines, signs, metaphors, ideas, pushing oneself through the physicality of pages, covers, paper, paint... Or because wandering, the possibility of constant and unrestricted moving in time and space, both real and imagined, is the indispensable condition of freedom, because subjugating and constraining usually starts with limiting the possibilities of wandering, with linking the body to one place only and the mind to one idea only, with settling down the wanderers... Or due to a very simple and obvious reason: from the very beginning the exhibition has been wandering and we have been wandering with it. We have been carrying it in suitcases and boxes, by trains, planes, cars and ferries, packing and unpacking, setting it up and dismantling. For ten years.

The books which have been wandering with us are a bit less normal than those entirely normal because they are a bit more literal. It sounds strange since this literality very often consists in getting rid of words and letters. These books strive to be a more adequate description, try to lessen the distance between the description and the described (and that is why the description has very often very little to do with the script). And most likely this is the reason why the 7th edition of Polish Book Art, which has been transformed into an international artist's book festival, is WANDERING not only by name; to experience everything it proposes one has to wander through the whole May and around whole Warsaw - one has to wander around Warsaw in May.

Then, off we go. Running, trotting or gently walking. Stepping lightly like a dancer or loudly shuffling the worn down soles.

And let me be allowed, in the name of all books wandering with us for ten years, to thank Alice for not letting us get clumsy and rotten and mouldy on shelves and in abysses of drawers.

Radosław Nowakowski
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