By Robert Malbert
Hayward Publishing, $35.00, 240 pages
Curiosity is a strange book and not easy to review. In fact, this reviewer did not understand it at all and suspects most readers will have similar problems. It seems to be about one of the Hayward Touring exhibitions, but research was unable to find where and when the exhibition occurred or whether the authors refer to the reproduced artwork exhibited in this volume. In fact, no author is given, but two long philosophical essays introduce this volume. Both essays are difficult to read, taking the reader’s full concentration to understand what the writers are talking about – broadly, curiosity. The first piece is “eight ways of looking,” and the second is a full nineteen propositions about curiosity. The second essay is particularly difficult to digest, as the text is set into sinuous, undulating and fragmented columns and ends with a list of references.
“Contemporary artists often cite ‘intellectual curiosity’ as the essential attitude underlying their approach to life, and as the keystone to their practice.”
The reproduced, very eclectic artwork is not any easier to understand, ranging from such examples as the Los Alamos National Laboratory Rolodexes through a graph, Miracles in Nature and Science, to a large foldout of a drawing of a flea. The book ends with an anthology of curiosity from AD 397 to 2011 and a list of works shown.
Reviewed by George Erdosh