This space exists inside an unused office room that has books, ripped papers stuck on all walls and hanged across the room, a few tools, and a set of rules.
ALL BOOKS YOU SEE ARE TO BE DESTROYED.
YOU CAN CHOOSE ONE BOOK AND DESTROY IT YOURSELF OR YOU CAN SAVE IT
NO BOOK CAN LEAVE THIS SPACE.
Imprint#1 is an invitation to encounter books in their physical state, to touch them, smell them, open them up, rip them apart, read them, alter their form, turn them into other objects of art, destroy them or save them.
It is an invitation to surface our relationships to books, to consider their materiality and their mortality, but also what lies beyond that.
It is a space that continually gets reshaped as its books get reshaped, shifted, altered, and repositioned; one that, in some ways, physically manifests one of the greatest aspects of the reader-text relationship.
We reshape books
Although the structures they offer remain the same, our stored experiences, knowledge, views etc, constantly reshape the way we read them and perceive their meanings.
Books reshape us
As we read them, we dive into a process of restructuring and reshaping what we already possess, our storage of experiences, ideas, perceptions & beliefs.
Imprint#1 emerged from the virtual dimension I co-constructed with the book Too Loud a Solitude, written by Bohumil Hrabal in 1976 (published in 1989), a fictional novel revolving around the life of its protagonist, Hanta, as a worker in a wastepaper press. Hanta destroys books daily, by compacting them in the hydraulic press. He is, however, an immense book lover, and often, subverting his own job, he reads the books about to be destroyed or rescues them by taking them home. Always alone, Hanta spends most of his days in the cellar, compressing books, drinking alcohol, staging weird book burials, and hallucinating the companion of different characters, including that of Jesus and Lao Tze.
What has been imprinted from this virtual dimension, is a questioning of how tight the connections we draw with books can be, and what a world of book destruction can reveal about these connections.
I am a book lover who read a book about a book lover who destroys books. I wanted to at least scratch the surface of Hanta’s world; to creatively interpret the precarious situation he found himself in every-day, and to create a space where visitors, by experiencing how it is to destroy a book or to resist this action, can potentially feel some of the trouble and dilemma Hanta had to continuously face.
The space of Imprint#1, filled with ripped and crumpled book pages, holds the promise that these books will be indeed destroyed. The written rules, visible on the door and window, offer the visitors the freedom to select a book of their choice and destroy it however they want. The same set of rules also offers the alternative to save a book, not allowing the visitors though to remove it from the room. I don’t find any of the two options to be easy; if you love books, their destruction is distressing, if you decide to save one then you need to invent a way to do so, since the easy option of taking it out of the room with you is restricted by the rules.
When the event was finished, I stepped in a room that was remarkably different from the one I created. The view of destroyed books all around the space was somehow painful, but also beautiful. I recalled Kate Flint's words on
The Aesthetics of Book Destruction.
‘Images of books that have been destroyed through negligence or catastrophe or as the result of acts of war or the nibbling teeth of mice, can have, on occasion, their own socking beauty’ (Flint, 2014, p.175).
I took one last glance before closing the door behind me. For the duration of that glance the room was a crime scene and the books seemed like mutilated bodies thrown around the space.
I still wonder if any were saved.