In the broadest of terms, my work is an inquiry into the non-verbal communication between people and objects. Presently, I am investigating how the history of use and misuse becomes indelibly etched into the fiber of matter and how those traces of memory evoke message and meaning.
I am currently creating library/reading room installations of books and furniture built from salvaged discarded materials. My premise is that of a futuristic library whose contents reflect a time in which the scarcity of resources has made valuable those materials which we so easily find expendable today. A future in which the written word has been forsaken. I visit the local landfill to scavenge and salvage what I can of the detritus of my society. I bring it to my studio, clean and sort the materials and reuse them in a new context: to tell stories, to recall memories, to reflect a culture gone haywire, whose very demise is found in its success; in its ability to over-produce an abundance of un-respected, undervalued items, to create and destroy compulsively.
The work is comprised of individual books and pieces of library furniture. The books speak in non-verbal terms-images remain open-ended, abstract, able to reference objective ideas as well as intimate stories. Though built primarily of metal, they function as books: they have covers and pages which can be turned.
The books are often built from reconstructed metal or wooden boxes fitted with hinged pages of various salvaged materials. Tiny doors, windows, magnifying lenses, and expanded metal create a feeling of depth and layering and reference the book-like sequencing of time and information.
The library installation is complete with bookshelves, study desks, tables and chairs, dictionary stands, show cases, and lighting fixtures. All built by recombining damaged found furniture or by inventing new uses for salvaged items. It includes the ten volume set “Encyclopedia Memoria.”
The choice of materials, lighting, placement of furniture and the content of the books creates an atmosphere evocative of time and memory, decay and restoration, disregard and reverence. The installation format of library/reading room contextualizes the individual books and provides a space within which the reader can slow down to book speed, handle and contemplate the work.
Photos and press release for this artist.
Residency: September 2000 - January 2001
Gaza Bowen's website