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Made for the Open Book exhibition, hosted by I-Art gallery, Cape Town in June 2011
7 log-like shapes exhibited in a row
Tree logs – Jacaranda wood, sliced blades – Imbuia wood
Base: 2150mm X 700mm X 120mm; log sizes variable

Open and Shut

  • My sculpture OPENANDSHUT shows books in the form of trees being smashed-up. My militant friend Mordechai blatantly states that books are nothing but badly fucked-up trees. The forensics of a book shows it is made of the same substance a tree is made of.


    OPENANDSHUT shows the paradigm tree on its way to becoming the paragon book. Seven logs of light- coloured Jacaranda wood are arranged in a row with cutting-blades of dark Imbuia wood sliced into them. I studied the way trees are cut up and shredded in paper mills. I wish to allude to stumps of trees fed into vicious rollers fitted with cutting-blades.


    Regarding paper in the world, no matter how glamorously that paper is presented, is really regarding totally destroyed trees. The idea of a paperless office is easier said than done. The more computerised the secular world becomes, the more paper it seems to generate.


    I am a hypocrite. I have a great affection for books and I have collected about 10,000 books over the years. I learned to read before I went to school and I always had a pile of library books with me. Somehow, I have to accept that the love of books must become the love of antiques. I have to shut the open book.


    Global warming is caused by greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which acts as an insulating blanket around the world, keeping in heat from the sun rather than its reflecting back into outer space again.


    Much of this carbon dioxide has been released in the last 150 years from ‘carbon-sinks’ in the form of the fossil-fuel gas, oil and coal reserves where ancient atmospheric carbon dioxide was trapped and hidden millions of years ago. Burning the fossil fuels combines the carbon they contain with atmospheric oxygen to produce carbon dioxide.


    Recently tree-planting schemes have been suggested as way to become ‘carbon-neutral’. In other words you generate carbon dioxide by choosing air travel, by driving your car, through the paper you consume or all the consumables you enjoy as a 21st century citizen. But you can try to correct out that imbalance of carbon dioxide by planting trees (or rather by having trees planted on your behalf for a fee). This supposedly absorbs the carbon dioxide you caused to be produced. The greenhouse gas problem is however more complicated than simply avoiding books or planting trees.


    My work OPENANDSHUT is a romantic affirmation of the value of trees and a nostalgic look at the cruelty inflicted by reading.

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