Alexander Korzer-Robinson is a collage/construction artist whose primary medium is old discarded books. He cuts them up page by page revealing some illustrations and deleting others. Visually, they remind me a lot of Joseph Cornell’s boxes which are some of my favorite works of art of all time. Conceptually though they are quite different. Cornell also used old discarded objects (garbage usually) that were once found beautiful, but relied on Surrealist juxtaposition to give a sense of nostalgia for the objects. Korzer-Robinson is using old books that were once used as tools to learn about the world around us. Each page was carefully edited by someone before it was published to mean something very specific. Fueled by his background in psychology, Korzer-Robinson is stripping away that meaning to create something new that you then have to find your own meaning in. He explains it clearly in his artist statement,
“… we remember the books from our own past, certain fragments remain with us while others fade away over time – phrases and passages, mental images we created, the way the stories made us feel and the thoughts they inspired. In our memory we create a new narrative out of those fragments, sometimes moving far away from the original content. This is, in fact, the same way we remember our life – an ever changing narrative formed out of fragments.”
I’ve spent some time looking at these and when in the right mindset they can definitely get your mind wandering. Trying to make sense of what book would have had the need for maps of waterways, mechanical drawings, the human skeleton and a duck. It makes you appreciate the oddness of life when displayed together, something I’ve always been interested in with my own work, particularly in a recent series of motion collages. I’ve always enjoyed art that leaves you with something to think about and these book objects definitely fit the bill. I’d love to view one in person and see how the story unfolds.
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Think or Smile | Nathaniel Whitcomb © 2010