Inspiration born out of one’s appreciation for the absurd often begets fantastical results. And this is the case with the Edible Books Festival, scheduled for April 3 at the Columbia College Library. The annual smorgasbord is hosted by Columbia College’s Center for Book and Paper Arts in collaboration with the library, and boasts a comic book and graphic novel theme this year.
Edible Book events are enjoyed internationally around this time of year, momentarily combining the notion of consumption along literary and culinary avenues. That we humans consume both forms of deliciousness may have been what inspired Judith Hoffberg, founder of the Art Libraries Society of North of America and also editor and publisher of Umbrella, to organize the first event in 1999. Gina Ordaz, who manages all administrative operations at the Center for Book and Paper Arts, says that as she understands it, it was idea’s quirky quality that spurred Hoffberg to action.
“I’ve heard the tale so many times,” Ordaz said. “It was something that started as possibly a joke, or in conversation, and I think that her admiration for the Fluxus Art movement had something to do with it.”
A small group of artists made up the Fluxus movement of the 1960s. Fluxus artists identified with one another tangentially via a common interest in fusing life with art through the interplay of found objects and materials. Its philosophy, made concrete by artists such as Dick Higgins and Ray Johnson, centered on melding and reshaping mediums and artistic principles. Food and literature, of course, form a bizarre and beautiful union at Edible Book Festivals worldwide.
Like the movement, entrants aren’t hemmed in by strict rules and regulations; the only rule is that objects must be edible and book related. Ordaz explained that the 20 to 25 “books” will likely take on many forms.
“They don’t always resemble a book—there are some pieces that look more like a scene— and it depends on the play on the words,” she said. “It’s very interesting to see how the food represents the books. We’ve had some very lovely structures that really resemble books, and we’ve had some other objects that are just crafted really beautifully. We had somebody create a bed one year.”
Ordaz added that a Fahrenheit 451 theme several years back resulted in numerous burned, or overcooked, books.
(Edible book featured in photo by Jackie McGill, inspired by The Incredible Book Eating Boy, by Oliver Jeffers.)