It was only in the final stages of their deliberations that the panel reached unanimity in supporting the selection of Once is Nothing. One reason for this late swing may be that this is, in some respects, a modest little book.
Once is Nothing is the name given to the joint contribution from the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven and BAK (basis voor actuele kunst in Utrecht, or Base for Contemporary Art in Utrecht) to the new Brussels Biennale. That entry was an exploration of an earlier biennale project, Individual Systems, in which the Slovenian curator Igor Zabel took part in the Venice Biennale of 2003.
This artistic reduplicative effect is calculated to make us think about the production lines of innovation that biennales have become. Reflection is also certainly facilitated by this conveniently sized little book in a white cover with, inside, nothing but black-on-white printing on uncoated paper.
The typography is a matter of ‘one size fits all’, with clever use of white space to guarantee accessibility. Text contributions and picture series alternate in well-considered balance, and the
printer has to all appearances effortlessly maintained the integrity of the images on the potentially absorbent paper. The title Once is Nothing appears on the front cover in the same one-size-fits-all size, and alongside it the subtitle Individual Systems in a recessed rectangle of a subtly different white, this effect being achieved by screenprinting the rectangle followed by blind stamping. Reduplication was never so minimalist.