Casey Gardner, “Body of Inquiry”

Cover view


Triptych fully open, front view


Detail, opening page of codex held in subject’s torso


Detail of interior page of codex showing body parts


Triptych fully open, back view


Artist: Casey Gardner (Berkeley, CA)

Title: Body of Inquiry

Medium/technique(s):Letterpress printed, pop-up, pastel

Edition size: 57

Dimensions, open: 15.25″ x 28.50″ x 1″

Dimensions, closed: 15.25″ x 9.75″


Artist Statement:

Body of Inquiry is a letterpress printed triptych structure holding a sewn codex within the subject’s torso. It is a book of display and intimacy opening to a large format with tiny details investigating the marvel of human physicality. The interior codex, held in the torso of a printed female anatomical model, unfolds the story of the scientific journey that an actual anatomical model inspired for this work.

The scientific panels lyrically, yet authentically explore the body, starting with atoms and cosmology and moving to the biology of cells and genetic structure. The biology is researched & factual yet metaphorically ambiguous, investigating the permeable borderline between material and immaterial. The outer panels are composed of instruments from 19th and 20th-century scientific catalogs. Grandiloquently labeled and preposterously described, the instruments represent the human endeavor to measure and understand beyond our sensual capabilities, the uncertainties of the world and the human condition.

The book’s inspiration came from the enigma posed by the model’s enviable composure despite her utterly available and exposed viscera. For years I referred to her as Our Lady of Serene Evisceration and marveled at her inner workings. I began this book to investigate what she held that captivated me.

I discovered the wonder of books and libraries at an early age. At every juncture of my life, I found books opening possibilities and leading the way. Now, as I make books, I see them still as leading me in whatever trajectory my curiosity directs me. Books offer me the opportunity to explore subjects and questions on multiple levels and to find relationships in story, sequence, material and form. I am forever grateful to be working in the infinite realm of books. My hope is to make books that give the reader an experience of moving through a journey of words and images to discover their own way into new ideas and prospects.