What household can function without a well-thumbed copy of Les Femmes Aux Cigarettes, specially geared “for students of world-weary sensuality” with its photos of 1920s Parisian cabaret singers, “all of them sporting cigarettes”?
And what domestic wizard can feed their family without 1970’s Myra Breckenridge Cookbook, offering “recipes à la drag queen—‘Breast of Capon,’ ‘Bearded Oysters,’ ‘Cod Pieces’”?
In truth, many people do manage to scrape by without such esoteric titles haunting their bookshelves. But it seems that the majority of artists cannot. Their support and affection for the genre of bizarre and kitschy printed ephemera is at the heart of “The Section Label Project,” a group show recently installed at Toronto’s “most idiosyncratic secondhand bookshop,” The Monkey’s Paw.
“The Section Label Project” brings together work from 13 well-regarded Toronto-area artists, almost all customers of the shop. Stephen Appleby-Barr, Diane Borsato, Katie Bethune-Leamen, Shary Boyle, Nicole Collins, Nicholas Di Genova, Kristan Horton, Michael Maranda, Olia Mischenko, Jennifer Murphy, Lauchie Reed, Derek Sullivan and Jacob Whibley all take a turn at the miniscule section label format.
Interestingly, a few of these artists have their own books—and they’re getting a toehold in the megabookstores as well as the independents. Recent Canadian Art web video subject Shary Boyle’s Otherworld Uprising is one of these. Related in media if not in scope is Michael Maranda’s Parasitic Ventures Press, which reworks existing books into new editions like Four Percent of Moby Dick and All the Names in “In Search of Lost Time.” “The Section Label Project,” too, will have a catalogue, a self-reflexive and esoteric-in-its-own-right turn sure to delight these bibliophile artists, if no one else. (1229 Dundas St W, Toronto ON)