Anonymous asked: i've been following for a while now and i just have to confess that, as much as i enjoy and am inspired & awed by the art you share, the pieces that have repurposed old books in particular make me incredibly uncomfortable sometimes. it's weird to both enjoy the pleasurable visual aspect of something while also feeling uneasy with it. thanks
Hi there! Altered books are indeed a contentious artform, and you might be interested in reading previous discussions I’ve had about them here.
I will admit, I too was once uncomfortable with altered bookworks/sculptures when I first came across them, under the umbrella term of ‘Book Arts’. But then again, I’ve found most bibliophiles like myself have a tendency to overly fetishize the book, and it’s important to recognize and question this inclination within ourselves.
The reality of the matter, however, is that these days most developed countries/societies are privileged enough to contain a superabundance of books of all genres, and of a variety of arguably questionable value.
For instance: 50 Shades of Grey, the fastest selling paperback of all time, is seen by many as a harmless form of escapism; a commodity and a vessel of entertainment, but how important is it to you really as an object of beauty to collect and proudly display on your bookshelf? As a physical object, how does it compare to an old hardback Jane Austen novel or a collection of Oscar Wilde’s poetry? Are these books largely seen as more valuable because of their content, historical significance, or because books of previous decades were made with higher quality paper + artful binding, unlike today’s cheaply produced paperback?
For me, I think the value of the book lies with the individual reader- and there will always be someone out there who will cherish even the most obscure of titles. As a result, it’s hard to judge which books are therefore “sacred” and which are superfluous, and allowed under the artist’s knife…
However, you just need to visit your local secondhand bookshop to see hundreds of volumes sitting there, quite literally homeless and decomposing. A great deal of altered book artist’s source their books from these bargain bins, or even salvage books which were due to be pulped anyhow. In these instances, the artists could be viewed as granting these objects a new lease of life, upcycling them into objects of beauty.
Anyway, that’s my 2 cents on the matter! Thanks for sharing your thoughts :) x