A book collection has the potential to index our yearnings. Books can be much more than containers of knowledge: heirlooms, eyewitnesses of personal or world historical eras, reified ambitions, fetishes.
That‘s how it was for me when, during my relocation to Iceland in the summer of 2013, my entire collection of books was destroyed in a flooded cellar.
„Watermarks“ addresses this loss and invastigates possibilities of transforming relics of such damage into new meaning.
The project is based on three components that represent different phases of this transformation. Notice that this work is still in progress.
Six inches of water were enough to let my book boxes collapse in a domino effect. This destruction went unnoticed until the next day, by which time the books were completely soaked. In the large-format photo series „Floaters“ this moment will be reimagined: The books are photographed floating in water from above. Due to the dissolution of the binding, individual pages are detached from the compactness of the book body; the drama of destruction is visually reinterpreted as a dreamlike transition from the solid object to a flexible deep-sea creature.
sketch (indian ink, watercolor and graphite): one of the „Floaters“ could look like this.
floaters (sketch), 2017
indian ink, watercolor and graphite on paper
30 x 42 cm
In this part of the project, I will make new paper out of the remnants of my library, which I will then put together to new books in the format of each original volume. The very same element that has destroyed them will also play a central role in the books‘ metamorphosis: water.
This slow process is based on seemingly endless repetition of minute gestures such as tearing, scooping, pressing and thus eventually re-creating my book collection piece by piece - as empty brochures, ready for new content.
tear#1, start of the process at projektraum pool
tear#1, later in the process at projektraum pool
tear#1 (White Oleander), 2017
performance (2 hours)
at projektraum pool
camera: Constanze Zacharias
A Library of Loss
The books will be on display during the process of transformation, showing the different stages of decay, deliberate deconstruction, temporary liquidation and so on. As soon as the Library of Loss is completely renewed, the books will find new owners.