The practice of book destruction is raising more and more the ethical question whether it is morally right to tear apart an object with such a cultural and historical value.
What happens instead to the perception of book alteration when the same exercise is applied to a volume whose material quality is less relevant than the functional value?
If the wrecked object was a magazine, would the viewers’ attention be more focused on the work itself than on the brutal slaughter of the original media? Would the artistic act be stronger, or would it instead lose its point?
With these questions in mind, some months ago I started to work on Vanity Fear, a series of portraits carved into fashion magazines.
One first inspiration has been Douglas Gordon’s series Blind Stars, 2002. In his work, he replaces the eyes from photographs of Hollywood icons with white, black or mirror paper creating a tension between the original familiarity of the images and their disturbing alterations.
My portraits are carved from an equally familiar object of visual consumption such as a glossy periodical and their aim is to offer the viewers a similar feel of discomfort.
After a certain time spent experimenting different altering techniques on various kind of magazines, I decided to focus on fashion publications and to examine the sleek imagery of perfection represented in them.
Jake and Dinos Chapman, in their series One day you will no longer be loved, “improve” or “rectify” found Victorian paintings by adding signs of decomposition on the original oil paintings, willing to question the concept of immortality reserved to the depicted elite.
Willing to use a similar ironic and dark approach, I carved the pages of found magazines to single out particular elements, that through their accumulation on the cover would create a disturbing new image: smiling lips, bright eyes and translucent legs, extracted from their original context and exposed as a multitude are no longer elements of beauty but become part of disfigured creatures.
In Gioia, only limbs are kept while the rest of the pages has been cut away: the result is a soft coloured palette of glossy legs and harms floating like ghosts around a smiling face.
Bluebeard’s wives is a crowded gathering of women’s faces found in the pages of a Harper’s Bazaar magazine, mounted on baby pink cardboard and hanged on the upper edge of the magazine.The title refers to the children’s classic fairy tale Bluebeard, where women are condemned and punished for their curiosity.
Dior reveals the presence of women’s lips throughout the volume of an Italian Glamour magazine.
In D, different layers of a woman’s respiratory system is cut through the pages to create a fragile and intricate superposition of paper organs. Within the pages, the anatomical images dialogue with the existing pictures offering the two-dimensional figures the illusion of heartbeat and deep breaths.
This is an ongoing series that will be exhibited in London at my solo exhibition, in few weeks time: more information to be posted soon!