The Big Book by Alison Knowles was just that: a book.
Comprised of eight moveable pages—each four feet wide by eight feet tall—anchored to a metal spine, this walk-in construction was equipped with casters, which made it possible to leaf through individual pages. Each page had access to the next, opening up different spaces between them where a reader could spend some time.
It was given its first public airing in 1966, at the Something Else Gallery in Chelsea, New York, which was also the living room in Alison Knowles's appartment. She lived there with Dick Higgins and their twin daughters Hannah and Jessica. Something Else Press was on the third floor of the same building, with her studio higher up. The book was built of found materials from this environment, and designed so that it could be shipped, packed into two crates.
It subsequently travelled to various venues in Canada, Europe, and the United States. In the course of these travels, the book gradually disintegrated into its individual components, so that by the time it departed from the final venue in La Jolla, California only a few pages remained.
Contributions by Meghan DellaCrosse, Corinn Gerber, Dick Higgins, Hannah Higgins, Jessica Higgins, Alison Knowles, Emmett Williams, Bill Wilson, George Quasha, Layout by Carolina Cerbaro.
2013, 48 pp, 9 full- and double page colour, and 24 full- and double page b/w illustrations, 259 x 204 mms, hardcover, 500 copies, ISBN 978-3-940215-13-0.
This publication was made possible with support from Stiftung Kunstfonds, Bonn.