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The renowned Japanese author Haruki Murakami (b. 1949) had thought about writing a book about running for ten years, but didn't know how to go about it. In 2005, he decided to write down his thoughts and feelings about running in the book 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running', which was published in Japanese in 2007 and in Danish in 2009.

The exhibition is a tribute to Murakami’s text about the physical ability of the human body, but also to the physical ‘body’ of the text – the handmade book. The softest goatskin, hand-stitched capitals, gold-leaf embossed letters on the front and spine – and inside a series of hand-drawn illustrations and the author’s signature. The ancient craft of bookbinding shows the handmade book as a cultural, historical and aesthetic object, and reminds us of the importance of using all our senses when it comes to intellectual activity.

Bookbinder Klara Kölqvist, engraver Martin Mörck and printer Erling Jørgensen have, over a number of years, created 25 unique editions of Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. The text first passed through the hands of printer Erling Jørgensen, who in Gutenberg style hand-set every letter. The books are also provided with illustrations, which engraver Martin Mörck has done with a number of classic printing techniques, and the text is finally bound in the most beautiful way by bookbinder Klara Kölqvist. The entire process has been documented by photographer Jon Nordstrøm, whose photographs are also part of the exhibition.

Creative writing is a slow and demanding process – very similar to the hard physical training for a marathon that Murakami describes in the book. The same is true of the bookbinding profession, where a single book can require a staggering number of working hours in addition to the imagination, skill and persistence of the craftsman. The marathon runner, the writer and the craftsman thus have more in common than one might think.


Photos by Jon Nordstrøm