Sanatorium Operations Manual

By Pedro Reyes

Well, damn. There are no reviews, and no “look inside” option available, so I can’t rely on my standard lazy approach to book evaluation here! I do, however, have the advantage of having looked at this one in person, even if I can’t remember exactly what it contains. I saw it in a great bookstore — I believe McNally Jackson in NYC — in the section every great bookstore seems to have with random weird art books and small press material and experimental works.

The book is both “manual and document” of Reyes’ Sanatorium project, which he created as a “temporary clinic…intended as a delivery system of placebos.” Apparently it continues his “interest in creatively ‘reimagining’ public institutions” and inviting viewers to participate actively in the work.

So — seems to be a kind of book-manifestation of a creative philosophy and workshop practice. And in fact the cover of the book is interesting in that it actually kind of lays on what this is! Here’s what it says:

“Sanatorium is a transient clinic that provides short unexpected treatments mixing art and psychology. In order to experience this project, you have to sign up as a patient and participate in sessions, which may be individual to him or her. If there is any particular situation at this present time that you would like to address, we will try to assign a therapy according to your needs.”

If I remember correctly, the book describes several of these “unexpected treatments” and how they work, in a fun, interesting, and creative way. I haven’t encountered — let alone written about — many books that instantiate a more performative and conceptual art project, but this seems quite fascinating. Does the book qualify as a core part of the art? Or is it only an attempt to record and solidify it? I’m curious to take a closer look and think about these questions further!

Additional information:

  • ISBN: 978-1905464791
  • Publisher: Ram Publications

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* Independent online book marketplaces. While these sites are often lighter on data / reviews, and thus not the first place to go to learn about a book, they're a great place to actually purchase!