Our Lives Are All Made up of Characters - The International Book Fair 2018
October is a great month, especially if you are a book lover. The landscape gently changes from summery green to warm yellow-orange-ish colours and the weather slowly cools down a bit, making it even cosier to cuddle up under a snuggly blanket with a hot chocolate and a good book.
So, it cannot be a coincidence, that the International Book Fair, book lovers’ annual event, takes place in mid-October. This year, the fair takes place from 10th to 14th October 2018, with a total of 285,024 people in attendance. The fair has 7,503 different exhibitions from 109 countries, to showcase new authors and provide you with enough reading material for the coming winter months.
The International Book Fair is an almost 500-year-old tradition, since Johannes Gutenberg revolutionised the letterpress printing process in Mainz, only a couple of kilometres away from Frankfurt, making the latter the emporium of the book trade. The International Book Fair as we know it today, however, was founded 1949 by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (The Capital Market Group of German Book Trade), starting out as a national event. A couple of years later the percentage of foreign exhibitors increased so heavily that they became the majority, making the Book Fair and international event.
The International Book Fair is also the venue where the most important and prestigious German literature prizes, namely the Deutscher Buchpreis (German Book Prize), the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels (Peace Prize of the German Book Trade), and the Jugendliteraturpreis (Youth Literature Prize) are awarded. Additionally, since 1988 the International Book Fair has an annually changing Guest of Honour, where one country and its literature and culture is presented and highlighted.
'Georgia – Made by Characters' was this year’s motto with Georgia as this year’s Guest of Honour. With a focus on the 33 letters of the unique Georgian alphabet, demonstrating the special expressiveness of the language and thus demonstrating alternative expressions of language and literature. Firstly, the Georgian alphabet is unique, because it does not consist of letters as usual, but phonemes (sounds); the Georgian alphabet is thought to be the foundation for many different languages, for example, Ossetian and Abkhazian. Secondly, this unusual phoneme-feature was at the core of the exhibition for Georgia. The interior of the Forum, the home of the Guest of Honour during the International Book Fair, was marked by giant 3D sculptures of the alphabet phonemes filling the space. [See picture above.] Some phonemes were actually climbable and walkable, inscribed with interesting facts and events that marked the Georgian history.
Additionally, the whole exhibition gave several examples of special types of expressiveness. The video installation ‘Hub of Emotions’, was an interactive audio-visual experience in which visitors could feel the harmonious tunes of the Georgian language while watching different people’s emotional changes, enabling the audience to access the language in a completely new way; namely through emotions and not through grammar or linguistics. Contrastingly, the ‘Hub of Symbols’ focussed on the lexical form of the Georgian language. Visitors could experience the language through a digital typesetting and typeface design, producing the letters and symbols themselves and having them printed on a postcard. The exhibit enabled the experience of seeing written language on our skin by producing (non-permanent) tattoos, turning the audience into literary art pieces. All in all, Georgia clearly showed that there are several other ways of expression with which we might not (yet) be familiar and that what applies to language also applies to us since we all have our own unique expressiveness. Our live's, like the books in the fair, are all made by characters.
Next year’s International Book Fair will take place 16th to 20th October 2019. To get more information about the fair and to get tickets click here. To get more information about next year’s Guest of Honour Norway, click here.
[Photo Credits: Tamara Suknovic]