In her work Kurzke investigates how books work, what it is that makes a book a book, how or how they can make a reader laugh or cry or gain knowledge. The Smiley Oracle is the first of her works that came in an edition; all previous works were one-of-a-kind. The edition is an integral part of this piece, since it investigates how the contents of a book can vary from with each reader. The Smiley Oracle works like this: Pose a question, open the book at a random page, and interprete the smiley face on this page as the answer. Thus it can provide a lot of different content depending on the questions different readers ask, and even for the same question, the answer may be different. The book has 324 brightly coloured pages, with 160 hand printed Smiley faces (no more than one on each spread) with 16 different expressions, cut from soft linoleum. The mini book is bound in Coptic style and housed in a slip case. Each copy has a different colour scheme.
cotton fabric, paper, linoleum printing colour, cardboard, linen thread
Hilke Kurzke is a book artist currently living and working in Nottingham, UK. For many of her books she uses relief printing and also developed a technique which is a hybrid of material printing, dry-point etching, and linoleum cutting for a tonal effect. Kurzke is a mathematician by training. She learned to bind books in her free time as a student. After finishing her PhD thesis, she had to hand over a certain amount of bound copies. She decided to bind them by hand which was the start of a career in bookbinding. It was her interest in books and reading that initiated first works of book arts, and investigating literature and books themselves remains one of her main topics: How do books do their magic? How can they make readers laugh or cry or fill their heads with knowledge?