Thames & Hudson (T&H) is publishing Björk: Archives (March, £40), the first complete retrospective of the musician’s work, to accompany the spring exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York.
Literary agent Maggie Hanbury was approached by Björk’s management to represent the Icelander, and Jamie Camplin, former managing director at T&H, bought world rights from Hanbury in the summer of 2014. Camplin said: “She respresents what T&H is all about, crossing boundaries and creating across all the creative niches. This isn’t an average ‘here are some photos’ book where it is thrown together. The book is art and a major worldwide creative event.”
The publication, which comprises five books and a poster, has been designed by Parisian graphic design agency M/M. Camplin said: “What M/M has created, in collaboration with us and Björk, involves fairly complicated paper engineering, designed to reinforce the trends we see in illustrated books—they need to be covetable, collectable and distinctive.”
The first book is an overview by the New Yorker’s music critic Alex Ross, who writes about Björk’s wide appeal and range, from club culture to high art. The second book is written by Nicola Dibben, professor of musicology at the University of Sheffield, who contemplates Björk’s feminism. There is also a “slightly adventurous” piece by posthumanist philosopher Timothy Morton, a text by MOMA chief curator at large Klaus Biesenbach, and the longest text is contributed by Icelandic poet Sjón. Sjón traces the journey of the seven albums Björk has produced since becoming independent and the personas she created for each of them. Sjón’s work is accompanied by new images of the singer that were taken in her native Iceland, and a video of their creation is featured in the exhibition.
Camplin said: “We’re working on a deluxe version that is under wraps and, in a way, a fightback against digital. When publishers stop caring about the paper on which books are printed then no wonder everyone wants to go digital because who would want to own the thing. We’re playing up the tactility of it. We may do digital but the main audience for this is print.”