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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Twisted Art of Ruined Books

"No important books have been injured during the making of these photographs."
Cara Barer

"Butterfly",  2006.
Book lovers are very protective of their books.  Dog-earred pages are definite no-nos.  So is cracking the spines.  Never, never, never place an open book face-down.  Wash your hands before handling.  Bookmarks should be kept nearby. Keep food and drinks away.  So what has photographer Cara Barer done?  All of the above, or at least most of them.

"Midnight", 2004.
"Carousel", 2007.

Barer once found a rain-soaked Yellow Pages on the ground.  She photographed it and was inspired to push this idea further.  She started considering using more books, and also more methods to alter their appearance.  Her photographs are mainly the edges of pages, formed in curliques, crinkles, twirls, and twisted spines.

"Karasu", 2007.
"Indigo", 2007.

She realized she had books that were no longer pertinent - "Would I ever need 'Windows 95'" she asks?  After soaking it in a bathtub for several hours, it had a new life and a new purpose.  She started haunting used bookstores, and even found an abandoned house with moldy, neglected reference books.

"Vortex", 2008.
"Journey to Zaragoza", 2009.

Barer takes into consideration the contents of the books she uses.  Some of her images contain isolated pieces of text.  The color(s) of the fore edges may influence her design.  This process influences her choice of books - size, paper quality, illustrations - all come into play as she decides how to alter the form.

"Cocoon", 2009.
"Stargazer", 2010.

The photographs are available in limited editions of various sizes - 36" x 36", 24" x 24", and 14" x 14".  They are mostly photographed against a black background. Besides soaking the books she may use hair rollers to curl the paper, or use velcro to position the pages.

"The Pathfinder", 2010.
"Sonnets", 2010.
She considers herself an artist who uses photography as her medium, rather than a photographer.  There is perhaps a bit of guilty pleasure looking at her photographs. While one would never want to see a rare or fine press book treated this way, who hasn't thought of torturing a badly written text?  As the question of books becoming obsolete is debated, what a grand way to treat obsolete books.

Images courtesy of the artist.  Please see her website for more images 
and information on purchasing the photos.


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