IN THE CRAFTSMANSHIP THE STORY COMES TO LIFE
Designmuseum Danmark shows unique editions of book by Haruki Murakami
A new exhibition at Designmuseum Danmark explores the relationship between a book’s narrative and its physical form through a series of handmade editions of the Japanese star author Haruki Murakami What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. A unique and years-long collaboration between masters of ancient crafts has preceded the exhibited works, which are shown here for the first time.
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. In a new, smaller exhibition titled IN THE CRAFTSMANSHIP THE STORY COMES TO LIFE, the audience can explore the ancient crafts of bookbinding, letterpress and engraving and gain insight into how the handmade book brings new dimensions and life to a story – in this case Haruki Murakami’s philosophical and humorous memoir about running.
An author’s writings about running
In What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, published in Japanese in 2007 and in Danish in 2009, Haruki Murakami describes what he feels and thinks about running – a passion that almost literally runs side by side with Murakami’s writing and intertwine beautifully in the book. The works in the new exhibition at Designmuseum Danmark show the close relationship between Murakami’s text about the physical ability of the human body and the text’s physical ‘body’ – the handmade book.
State of the art craftmanship
Over a number of years, bookbinder Klara Kölqvist, who is one of the last bookbinders in Denmark, the renowned engraver Martin Mörck and printer Erling Jørgensen have together created the unique editions of Murakami’s book. The text first passed through the hands of Erling Jørgensen, who, like the inventor of the art of printing, the German goldsmith Johann Gutenberg, set every single letter by hand. 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 is documented by photographer Jon Nordstrøm, whose evocative photographs are part of the exhibition.
Exhibited for the first time
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 exhibition IN THE CRAFTSMANSHIP THE STORY COMES TO LIFE gives a fascinating look into the artisanal process that precedes the handmade book and examines the relationship between text and book – content and expression, when the story is brought to life through craft. The series includes 25 books, signed by the author, of which eight are included in the exhibition and are shown here for the first time.
IN THE CRAFTSMANSHIP THE STORY COMES TO LIFE is on show at Designmuseum Danmark from 22 August to 24 September 2023.