Framing Books

Books have covers, sufficient to set a tone, give a hint, protect and frame the contents. We have to get inside of  books, usually, to get to the contents, and so they are not framed or hung on a wall under glass. But as I looked at the book I finished last summer Woods in the City, which was recently returned to me from a show where it had been kept inside a glass case, I wondered if it might have a better means of display, something that would make sense and add to the content. The book will be in an exhibition in March at CCA, part of an enormous printmaking show in conjunction with the SGC International conference. I felt a little sad thinking about parking it on one of the white painted pedestals. So I built a reading table for it.

Since the book is about the demolition of a house and the subsequent transformation of the lot into a garden, I wanted to use reclaimed materials. I had a wooden gardening table that had finally started to disintegrate, so I took it apart and used both the weathered wood and the rusted wood screws. My fence, falling down for decades, was finally rebuilt: I took a few of the old boards. The trellis for the ridiculous, overgrown jasmine had to come down. And I had a few strips of oak flooring from a remodel, done years ago. I had plenty of free raw materials.

Since the book's box is so dark with nothing in it, I added an LED tea light (one of the only purchases I needed to make). And I admittedly did buy a couple tillandsias (air plants) for it. (I've recently become enamoured with making little bubblescapes with them because they make me happy.) I have a collection of lichen on sticks that I have been drawing, and incorporated the sticks into the side shelf as well. I may make a little linocut seed packet print facsimile to tack onto the righthand leg.

Creating this reading table-installation-frame made me reassess how books are displayed globally in art contexts. I think book art might have a larger presence in art spaces, might be felt differently, if each book were part of an installation and commanded more attention.

I don't make large books. I like working small. I prefer working at a scale closer to my hands. But I enjoyed this puzzle, this way of building, one detail at a time, that—to my surprise—was a process close to creating a book.

Previous post about the book here.


roseline said…
C'est une merveilleuse idée!
miki said…
This is so wonderful - a much better exhibition platform, an extension of the book, and a larger sculptural element than the book itself/alone. I love your use of living plants.