Images Merja Kokkonen
Graphic design Antti Nylén
Inside pages printed by Luova.fi
Additional printing and binding Antti Nylén
Thread sewn booklet, 44 + 4 pages
Original print (as endpaper), 450 x 320 mm
Cardboard envelope, girdle, 90 x 230 mm
Colophon insert, 290 x 200 mm
Papers Munken Lynx 120 g/m2, Washi paper 30 g/m2, Folia Fotokarton 300 g/m2, Canson Iris Vivaldi 240 g/m2, Sweden Bond 90 g/m2
330 x 230 x 6 mm (envelope)
305 x 215 mm x 4 (cover 325 x 230 mm) (booklet)
Edition of 100 copies
Angel Tape is an artist's book by Merja Kokkonen, a Finnish visual artist, also known as the recording and performing artist Islaja. The book is based on a series of monotypes printed in the artist's studio in Berlin during the first half of 2021. Monotyping is a printmaking process in which a single-use matrix produces a unique reproduction.
The visual content, completely wordless, fills up the space of the book right to the edges. Each copy contains a single unique print, which is printed on Washi paper and serves as the endpapers of the book. Angel Tape can be read in multiple directions—vertically or horizontally—since it does not contain any text.
The only textual content is a short author's note. This note, along with the colophon and credits, is printed on a separate sheet roughly the size of an A4 page, in Finnish, German, Swedish, English, French, and Japanese. The booklet is enclosed in a cardboard envelope, secured with a paper girdle.
As Angel Tape lacks textual content and features abundant colorful visual elements, it prompts questions about "reading images." This might also extend to the idea of "listening" to the images, as the word "Tape" in the title could imply an audio tape, such as a cassette. Although the booklet follows a conventional format, it can be "read" in any direction or orientation. The suggested "dramaturgy," a fixed sequence of images, does not necessarily limit the reading process. The centerfold and the envelope cover showcase the same orange rectangle. This visual element, which transforms into a circle when the envelope is sealed with the girdle, might act as an axis around which the imagery revolves. However, the work is not inherently cyclical; rather, it possesses a disjointed and linear, "tape-like," quality. Reading can commence and conclude on any page.
The recurring visual motifs and colors on the pages suggest a unique language or glyphs developed for a particular purpose. The imagery is neither abstract nor representational. Alongside some distinctive markings, it might resemble drawing, painting, or even photography. Surprisingly, it doesn't often evoke printmaking, despite that being the technique used for the originals.
Merja Kokkonen is better known by her musical moniker, Islaja. Since the early 2000s, she has released several distinctive recordings (the latest being Tarrantulla in 2017) and has been actively performing in Europe and worldwide. However, Kokkonen's training is in visual arts. In the summer of 2022, she exhibited her work at Kunsthalle Turku, Finland, alongside two other experimental artists, Laura Naukkarinen and Jonna Karanka.
Angel Tape marks Kokkonen's debut in the format of an artist's book.
The edition consists of 100 copies.
This hand-bound artist's book is available for purchase online at the Bokeh Shop, priced at 45 € (+ shipping).