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‘Largest U.S. retrospective exhibition’ of Ulises Carrión Bogard’s work in Milberg Gallery

Paintings of a man on a wall. Black text on colorful backgrounds.
“Ulises Carrión: Bookworks and Beyond” exhibition in Milberg Exhibition Gallery.
Photo courtesy of @PULibrary/X

A new exhibit at the Milberg Gallery in Firestone Library celebrates the work of Mexican modern artist Ulises Carrión Bogard, focusing on his reimagination of what a book could look like, mean, and do. According to a post on X from @PULibrary, the “exhibition [is] the largest U.S. retrospective exhibition of [Carrión]’s work to date.”

The exhibit, called “Bookworks and Beyond,” has been orchestrated by Sal Hamerman, Metadata Librarian for Special Collections, and Javier Rivero Ramos, a 2023 Ph.D. graduate of the Department of Art and Archaeology. It is on display from Feb. 21 through June 13, 2024 and admission is free for the University community and the general public alike.

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Hamerman provided The Daily Princetonian with a private tour of the gallery, explaining that the exhibition was in the making for three years. The development and pitching stages of the exhibition began during the pandemic.

The exhibition is split into three main sections: an investigation of Carrión’s interest in the book as an artistic medium, a description of Carrión’s bookstore and gallery called Other Books and So, and a deep-dive into Carrión’s interest in “mail art” as a collaborative art form using the postal system.

It also boasts original art and correspondence from his contemporaries and Carrión’s own collection. The Carrión exhibition incorporates key audio-visual, performative, and printed works from Princeton’s collection as well as items on loan from the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art in New York, and Living Media Art in Amsterdam.

The final section of the exhibition is interactive, complete with postage-paid postcards where visitors can create and send their own mail art to family and friends. Hamerman and Ramos designed and laser-cut wooden stamps that mimic Carrión’s own designs that participants may ink on their own cards. 

Stephanie Oster, a spokesperson for the Office of the University Librarian, told the ‘Prince’ that “this is [the library’s] first exhibition to feature an interactive element for visitors to engage in a participatory way.” 

Dan Linke, the University Archivist and Deputy Head of Special Collections, told the ‘Prince’ in an interview that the Princeton University Library (PUL) is “trying to elevate his work to the literary canon. And this is what scholarship is about. We’re introducing this into the conversation of poetry and book art.” Linke is also a caption-proofreader for the Carrión exhibit.

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He explained that this exhibition is different from those shown in the Milberg Gallery previously. The last exhibit, “In the Company of Good Books” which was on display from Sept. 6 to Dec. 10, 2023, commemorated the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s “First Folio” with a celebration of English literature. 

In contrast, the current Carrión exhibit is on the “other end of the spectrum of what you want to do with a gallery,” according to Linke. He said “the intent of this is different from the celebratory exhibits” — it focuses on an artist outside of a conventional western view.

Hamerman agreed, telling the ‘Prince’ that “this exhibition [is] a good opportunity to really think about” the same questions that past, more traditional exhibits conjure from a “totally different angle and time period.” 

The exhibit is officially open to the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and the weekends. It was temporarily closed on Thursday, Feb. 29 due to “elevated humidity levels,” Oster said in an email to the ‘Prince,’ delaying a private tour offered to the Student Friends of the Princeton University Library. The gallery reopened the following day.

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Oster explained that, “there are many factors that our exhibition, preservation and conservation, and facilities teams look at daily to ensure that the gallery and artwork/objects are well maintained throughout the run of a show.” 

According to Oster, the PUL installs and presents a new exhibition in the Milberg Gallery each semester. PUL also has exhibits on display in Cotsen Children’s Library, East Asian Library, Mudd Manuscript Library, Special Collections, Firestone Library, and Stokes Library. 

The Milberg exhibition for Fall 2024 has not yet been announced.

Correction: A previous version of the piece referred to Sal Hamerman as Deputy University Librarian. Hamerman's title is Metadata Librarian for Special Collections. The ‘Prince’ regrets this error.

Hallie Graham is a News contributor for the ‘Prince.’

Please send corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.

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