The glossy cover with its large J initially left much to be guessed about the contents of this slim work. Brief inspection revealed it to be a curious synergy of image and text. In this publication for the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten (founded in 1870 as a classical academy but now an artists’ residency) a half-hour YouTube film by John Cleese about creativity has been recast by Barbara Iwanicka and Alex Farrar in book form. In so doing they have ‘rescued’ the original artefact from its digital oblivion and re-released it into the wild, the film no longer being available for copyright reasons.
In a note on Alex Farrar’s working method we read: ‘To begin with, Farrar undermines the stereotypical mechanisms of the art world, exploiting minimal ideas to the maximum.’ In John Cleese on Creativity this is achieved not by run-of-the-mill means but by larding the text with enlarged stills of the talking Cleese. ‘A video that has now vanished from the Internet has been turned into a book,’ someone commented. The
consensus was that it’s been beautifully done, in an original and intelligently conceptual manner. The film timing acts as a guide at the top of the pages and the reader’s attention is drawn by large blue and black capitals placed through the text, references to the words Cleese and Creativity. The simple staples in the glossy cover are in beautiful contrast. The use of the Risograph system means that the ink is still prone to come off, providing a fine sensation. As an entry from the younger end of the art world, John Cleese on Creativity has all the merits of that world and in many different ways it testifies to great boldness and eagerness to get things done.