Since 2007, when attending professional arts-related events artist Alex Farrar has worn a self-sewn suit, an average grey gentleman’s suit that he has stitched together by hand. The instant he puts it on – exclusively for presentations, openings, study visits and other art events – he dons the role of artist. Farrar is no tailor, so the suit is no sharply tailored, technically immaculate example, but it is one that he has put together as well as possible. After a couple of years or so it falls apart when the hand-stitched seams wear out. Then he makes a new one, and with growing experience each new suit is slightly better than its predecessor.
This small, imperfect little book follows the life of the suits and hence of their owner. It contains lists of the occasions on which Farrar wore each suit, admission tickets and other memorabilia from the events he attended, a number of articles and interviews discussing the suits’ function, use, context and value. The book – like the suits – is ragged. Here and there, sometimes by design, sometimes not, it is a little skew; the printing is spotty blue and black, produced by the Risograph process. Open it a few times and the nonprofessional hand binding almost disintegrates. None of these shortcomings are usually considered fitting in a candidate for the Best Dutch Book Designs – and yet the panel were taken with the unique approach taken by The ‘Suit’. Its unkempt appearance is part of its expressive power. The ‘Suit’ represents a different, rebellious take on what a book is and what a book can do, and apart from anything else it reveals how some young book makers and students are probing the medium, deconstructing it and investing it with new meaning.