Today’s post features three books that utilize folding techniques to create forms that carry content or even become the primary content of the book.
The wrap-around case that holds Kimberly Maher’s pop-up carousel book Crooked is fairly plain-Jane except for an angled flap on the front cover. The coolish gray of the cover and use of a hidden closure (magnets) quietly beckon as I lift the angled flap with anticipation.
Carousel books often shine most brightly when displayed upright and fully open; happily Crooked also reads very well flat, as a ‘bookie book,’ allowing for a more focused and leisurely pace through the book than is feasible when displayed upright. The text and imagery, printed pochoir and letterpress in a limited palette of blues and grays, move from outside (a stormy wind illustrated by a swirling funnel cloud that, affixed to both sides of the spread, rises as the page is turned), to interior domestic spaces with stairs in the second spread and a pop-up four-poster bed in the fourth.
My favorite spread is the center spread with its grandfather clock on the left page. Rather than popping up or opening, the clock swells into a sweet curve as the page is turned. The other side of that spread features a door opening to reveal both text and pop up image. The last page takes me back outside again, to the garden, and is a two-layer spread.
Crooked also displays well. What I first notice on setting it for display as how nicely the angle of the cover flap mimics the angle of the interior pages.
Maher’s text is composed from select nursery rhyme verses and lyrics in which the absurdity of the narrative is amusing. Her intent is
to entice the viewer into a false sense of pacification by subtly revealing a much darker illusion she examines defense mechanisms-notions of escape, breaking free from restraints or oppression.
Barbara Milman’s piece Unnatural Histories #33 – Seaside Stories uses folds to create shapes that not only carry imagery, but also become specific and non-interactive shapes, held static in this case. Although the viewer isn’t able to move the pages, there is still a sensation of motion, created by graphics and forms that repeat in a way that mimics the ebb and flow of the ocean.
Milman’s receiving a gift of several cigar boxes prompted the creation of this series; this particular piece has a one page text related to climate change affixed to the inner front cover; the wave forms are on the boxes deeper, right side.
Suzanne Sawyer’s To Make You See is a single sheet Turkish Fold housed in an elegant black cloth case binding. A square label of sorts is on the front cover, although the label doesn’t have an actual title. The label instead has a few ghostly and randomly placed letters amid intersecting red lines.
Once open, the orientation is appropriate for reading both the colophon and a brief historical snippet about Al-Mutanabbi Street. To read the rest of the textual content it is easiest to rotate the piece ninety degrees. Three quotes, one by Joseph Conrad and two by Lucius Annaeus, Seneca are laid out in various sizes; Conrad’s quote is in larger, and darker type. The words To Make You See, along with intersecting gray lines (a map of Baghdad), form a backdrop for the quotes.
With very little text, this piece provides historical context alongside well chosen quotes. I was familiar with the words of Joseph Conrad, remarking on the power of the written word, but not with the words of Seneca. Seneca’s quotes strike a nice balance, including words about mankind’s search for meaning and a method for finding inner peace.