8.10.2006

Idioms of liberation or imprisonment?

idiom09
For his sculpture Idiom, Matej Krén gathers books from libraries and bookshops in the city where he installs each version, making towering turrets of collected words, and therefore philosophies, vernacular expressions, and cultural histories. Born in Slovakia, Kren has created this piece in cities including Sao Paulo, Prague, and Jerusalem. While Kren's works are formally interesting and nicely respond to safe ideas about culture, geography, and identity, I can't help but see them through a sociopolitical lens as well, the lens of Israel-Hezbollah, Iraq, al-Qaeda, and George Bush.

On a basic level: how are our books and doctrines--the bible, the Qu'ran, the Torah--locking us in or, conversely, walling us off? (This notion resonates with Huang Yong Ping's Two Typhoons, a pair of World Trade Center-like distended scrolls, one written in Sanskrit, the other in Arabic.) How--like the teardrop-shaped doorway in Idiom--can they free us? Maybe the metaphor in Cuban artist Kcho's Obras Escogidas (Selected Works) (below) is a bit more overt: constructed from Spanish-language books, the image of a Cuban escape vessel, a vehicle both literal and literary, is undeniable. I guess I fall on the side of knowledge: this many books, stacked so high, is freeing; a single book, peered at exclusively, is the prison.
Below, Kren's Omphalos and Gravity Mixer. Via the always excellent placeboKatz.


Speaking of books: Check out Book Mooch, a network for trading in your old books for new, used ones from somebody else's discard pile.

1 comment:

Sonia said...

Amazing! Just great!