AIGA: 50 Books | 50 Covers Winner, 2020

Alia Ali: Project Series 53

Contributions by Alia Ali, Rebecca McGrew and Daphnide Toussaint, and Michael Rakowitz

Designed by Content Object: Kimberly Varella, Art Direction and Design; Sam Wagner, Assistant Designer; David Evans Frantz, Project Manager
Softcover, Two Books Held Within Four Panel Cover with Dust Jacket, 120 pages
Publisher: Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-9979306-4-1
Dimensions: 6.5 × 8.25 in.
Printing: Typecraft Wood & Jones, Pasadena, CA

The catalogue for Alia Ali: Project Series 53 presents three bodies of recent work by Yemeni-Bosnian-US artist, Alia Ali. Her work explores themes of diaspora, migration, and identity through the lens of Afro- and Yemeni Futurism. Informed by the artist’s own transnational and multilingual upbringing, these works use visual language to create a new lexicon unfettered from the colonial violence inherent to language.

Using layering, full bleeds, multiple trim sizes, and extreme paper changes, the structure of this book creates a dynamic relationship between image, word, movement, and sequence that is experienced simultaneously. The three works are placed in relationship to one another in a unique binding that joins the back covers through a W-fold. The volumes meet in the middle, turning the axis of the book so that it can be read both left-to-right and right-to-left, embracing the multiplicity of Ali’s work.

On the cover is an array of symbols—a fabricated language created by the artist—that are redrawn and reproduced in a dizzying holofoil on a transparent neon dust jacket. Peering through the jacket, the cover reveals a pixelated glitch from one of Ali’s films, highlighting an in-between moment, a fracture of language, a broken system of codes. Without a doubt these distinct elements cohere into a material experience for the reader where she is invited to enter and teeter on the edge of language and power.