Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

More from the land of Book Art: Guy Laramee

Books used as artistic medium continues to be a shaping trend in visual arts and design.

Guy Laramee, Prajna Paramita, 2011.
I recently came across the work of Montreal artist Guy Laramee who, like Brian Dettmer, Stephen Doyle, and others noted in these pages (click the "book art" label below), carves books into sculptures and installations. Unlike the others, Laramee has an interest in the connection between sacred texts and landscapes. These would be stunning images if made with plaster and painted, but the medium layers a number of meanings and affects.

Laramee's recent project "Guan Yin" evokes the titular bodhisattva of compassion, but much else as well, such as the Himalayan landscape brought out through carving a bound copy of the Prajna Paramita sutras. There is also a "stupa" carved from a Tibetan-Chinese dictionary that may contain some political undertones. And the captivating cave carved through a copy of John Brown's "self-interpreting" family bible remains enigmatic.

Guy Laramee, Stupa, 2011
Guy Laramee, Brown, 2011
"CBS This Morning" did a brief interview with Laramee this Spring. The CBS correspondent asks whether he's had any negative reactions to what he does, because, after all "books are sacred." Laramee says, intriguingly, "I'm making them even more sacred, because they are a sacrifice." Any elaboration on that was edited down, though I'd suggest this is an example of de-con-secration" as opposed to desecration.

Much of his earlier work points toward interests in Romanticism and mysticism, and my sense is that a glimmer of the mysterious, perhaps even sublime, comes through books as well as landscapes.

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