Artist Books – Marlen Wagner

Zettels Traum

Zettels Traum – Artist Book © Marlen Wagner

19 x 11 cm + 8 text pages

Third Book of Dreams: Zettels Traum is a homage to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Zettel=Bottom), to Arno Schmidt’s Zettel’s Traum (famous German author who worked with really many pieces of paper) and to the time of reading and discussing. A time when there was no internet, no full-text search – but slips of paper and index cards.


Spiked – Artist Book © Marlen Wagner

19 x 11 cm + 4 Textseiten

Second book of dreams: a nightmare – beware, no happy ending.

In Spite of Everything

In Spite of Everything – Artist Book © Marlen Wagner

19 x 11 cm + 2 Textseiten

This is the first book of dreams, its theme is departure, journey – and hope. Short dream stories are embedded in a photo, a drawing, a collage, and the cover and spine are designed according to the theme.

Two Hours, fifteen Minutes

Two hours, fifteen Minutes – Artist Book © Marlen Wagner

Flutter Book, 13 x13 cm, 10 photos, cardboard

Photos of a land art project that took place at the Baltic Sea in June 2014.


Curiosity – Artist Book © Marlen Wagner

Lotus fold: 11 x 11 cm, 3 sheets à 20 x 20 cm

In the Letters of the Angels, only one sign distinguishes curiosity from expectation – the last one. 
While expectation always has a claim to fulfilment, curiosity is self-sufficient: the desire to experience something new, to get to know something new, can only fail if there is nothing new to experience. And this is highly unlikely. The opportunities that curiosity holds are innumerable – what counts here is the sense of possibility, not that of reality.
Whether the angels who turned away from heaven and towards earth harboured certain expectations? Who knows, they were curious in any case.


Concertina made of eleven cardboard squares of 6 x 6 cm, grains of rice, red ink, scans, pasted sliding box.

Constellations: Grouping, coincidence of certain circumstances and the resulting situation, planetary position. Since the beginning of the 16th century, a common technical term in German astrology. There it denotes the position of the stars in relation to each other and at the same time the supposed influences on the fate of man that result from this. “Constellation” is borrowed from the synonymous Late Latin “cōnstēllātio”, whose adjective “cōnstēllātus” means “studded with stars”. Stēlla, the star, is later also translated as heavenly body. The figurative meaning “situation resulting from the concurrence of certain circumstances” is formed in the 18th century. predominant.


Lotus fold; 11 x 11 cm, 3 sheets à 20 x 20 cm

Having great expectations, having a preconceived notion of what is likely to happen – the prospect of future good (possessions, social advancement) goes astray not only in Dickens’ novel Great Expectations. But is it therefore more appropriate to allow no expectations at all? At least the feeling of expecting something to happen will remain with even the most disillusioned person – even if this feeling is not directed towards future positive things.


Concertina spine, 15 x 11.25 cm, 12 photos, cardboard, paperboard

We often wait, usually involuntarily and unwillingly. We wait for someone – full of anticipation or annoyed. If joy prevails, waiting is not difficult. Then, smiling, we fill the time with thoughts of past and future events that we have shared and still want to share with the person. Or we let our gaze wander unintentionally until, attracted by something, it comes into focus. Without knowing it, we thus fulfil the original meaning of the word “wait”: to direct one’s gaze towards something. However, if it is the umpteenth delay, then the time drags on and the annoyance increases from minute to minute. We can’t find anything positive in this waiting time.

Burnt before Reading/Saved from the Ashes

Two concertinas joined in a cover, 14 x 10.5 cm, cardboard, 11 photos each of the burning process on matt photo cardboard, painted tyvak for the joints.

Truth is reasonable for human beings, once wrote Ingeborg Bachmann, a famous German writer. And even if there is not only one truth, the freedom of the press and of expression, of research, of teaching and of the arts must never fall victim to ideology.


Prickly wood, Wenzhou paper, red ink pen and the Letters of the Angels

In 2000, Robert Krokowski designed these letters as a complete “alphabet” with punctuation marks and rudimentary grammar, but without any meaning. Since then, the letters have accompanied us in many projects. They have been danced, set to music and tattooed. Those who take part in our artistic projects are given five words in the letters of the angels – the participants give them their personal meaning in the course of the respective project.

Shadows of Time

Flutter Book, 13 x 13 cm, 9 photos, cardboard, carton

Fotos eines Landart-Projektes, das im Mai 2022 an der Ostsee stattfand. 

Breaking the Silence

Concertina: 16 x 10,5 cm cardboard, 8 x 10,5 khadi paper, white ribbon, bells, music paper, hidden text

Rhythm and rhyme: Everything is possible in a book, even breaking the silence between social and political camps, between friends who are no longer friends. Composition: Robert Krokowski.


Concertina, 15 x 8.82 m, photo paper, cardboard, 8 photos

Power lines, overhead wires, rails, construction cranes – the Berlin sky is criss-crossed by many lines. Here are a few.


Open thread stitching, 16 x 12 cm, 20 photos matt on black cardboard 10 x 10 cm

In art history, the gestures of angels are interpreted – but mostly those of the arms, hands and fingers. My focus is therefore on the angels’ wings, their gestures. The angels’ wings and the arms accompanying them are therefore what emanate from the angels. This artist’s book is also a contribution to the Fraktalwerk project for the Capital of Culture Chemnitz 2025: “Entangelments, Language of Angels”. In 2021/22, the focus was on “gestures as mediators between cultures”.

Colours: blue

Concertina, 12 x 15,5 cm, 12 photos, matt photo paper, blue cardboard, painted joints of tyvak, blue ribbon

The second book in the Colours series: Blue. The rule: remove all colours from the photos – except black, white and the one that gives this book its name.

Colours: Yellow

Concertina, 12 x 15,5 cm, 13 photos, matt photo paper, yellow cardboard, painted joints of tyvak, yellow ribbon

With the discovery of a colourful wheel on a wasteland in the neighbourhood, the idea to create a small series of Colours became reality. Here it is: yellow. The rule for all books in this series: remove all colours from the photos – except black, white and the one that gives the respective book its name.


Konzertina, 15 x 11,5 cm, 16 Fotomontagen, mattes Fotopapier, schwarze Pappe, Tyvak

Many doors have closed since May 2020. It is time to open new ones!

Black and White

Konzertina, 9 x 9 cm, schwarze und weiße Pappe in einem bemalten Kistchen

Ten white, ten black squares 9×9 cm. Triangles and rectangles cut out in the other colour and glued on. On each of the first two squares a geometric figure, on the second two … Connected with joints, packed in an empty chocolate box, fixed with a clamp.

Don’t fence me in

Konzertina 15 x 11,25 cm, 8 Fotos, mattes Fotopapier, schwarzer Karton, Tyvak, own design for cover

Sometimes it’s enough to shift the perspective a little …