SG Artbook Library review

Art has always been considered to be seen in a gallery, and so its accessibility has been limited to being viewed and understood within the spaces on white walls. However, the problem with accessibility is dependence on art theory; one can analyze the meaning of each piece to no end. All art has meaning, often with multiple layers of meaning, but also has value in its most straightforward state. Art is full of diverse media, and has also opened a way for libraries to collect archival print and art collections by cataloguing them as a documentation of artist networks and explorations of their work.

SG Art Book Library is a growing catalogue of published print materials that explores the creative possibilities of art book publishing, which generate meaningful disclosure from the work of artists and other practitioners. The library was organised by Thing Books ( They have archived a variety of art books showcased at dblspce — an integrated space for artistic practice, hidden in the heart of Peninsula Shopping Centre, #02-20.

dbl space at peninsula shopping centre

Although the library was located in the shopping mall, I had trouble finding my way around due to small and narrow corridors. I realised I was circling around Peninsula Plaza instead. The library is small and cozy with natural soft lighting coming from the windows, with enough light to fill up the space. There were 4 long tables of art books and collections on display, and some chairs around the walls, making the space comfortable for readers to pick and browse for as long as they like.

The library has a variety in their collections, giving exposure to different art forms such as zines, illustrations, magazines, art books etc,.

What captured my eye was the packaging of TOFU (tofu capitalised). It is a white book, placed in plastic packaging. It is a creative way of imitating silken tofu packagings you can find in supermarkets. Inside this packaged tofu zine, there are various close up shots of tofu, almost like a commercial shoot in a book.

TOFU (tofu capitalised)

豆本 MINI ZINE is a collection of 7 different pocket sized zines packaged in a tiny box, made by a collective of artists. Art zines can be as experimental or as niche as one likes, allowing to express oneself freely and creatively; that is the beauty of creating art. As much as print is a fast and convenient way of reproducing an artwork, it is able to reach to the hands of the public. Having a zine pocket-sized book gives a different experience of a tiny book that uses your fingers instead of your hands to flip each page. This allows you to appreciate the tiny details. Some of the prints are even RISO printed on such a small piece!

A tiny riso zine about gum

Until Death Do Us Part (双喜) is an archival project of various Chinese families from Beijing. These photographs give an intimate glimpse of the unexpected role cigarettes play in Chinese weddings. This pocket sized photo book is packaged in a package of Double Happiness Cigarettes, a well-known Chinese cigarette brand that is commonly used at weddings. Brides would light a cigarette for every man invited to their wedding, and would play different kinds of smoking games with their friends. This unconventional way of celebrating Chinese weddings is completely different from what we experience in Singapore, where Chinese wedding traditions have many auspicious taboos, adding a perceptive seriousness to a wedding.

Until Death Do Us Part (双喜)

Art fairs such as like Illustration Fairs and Art Book Fair, are gaining popularity over the recent years, due to an increase in appreciation towards illustrations, zines, and handmade art. SG Art Book Library continues to broaden the scope of publication and arts, and has made the art scene in Singapore more accessible, bringing different communities together.



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