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I write what I know on one side & what I don’t know on the other

I write what I know on one side & what I don’t know on the other, 2020 / Installation: Pratt Library staircase / Text on 53 vinyl strips 

The exhibition title, Read Me. Like a Book., is a phrase taken from this installation: I write what I know on one side and what I don’t on the other (a phrase that references a Carl Sandburg poem). Sixty-eight artist books are exhibited on three floors of the atrium in Pratt Institute Library where the central staircase is located. Movement between the exhibited work necessitates climbing up this marble staircase, and led me to consider its function as a vehicle of transition between the ideas in the show, along with its larger role as an aspirational architectural structure. As such, the stairs became an artist book, literally ‘read’ while moving up to the higher floors.


The text that I wrote to be attached to the inset on the risers creates a dialogue between ‘stairs’ and ‘books’, where each riser becomes a page and locus for a thought and the stairs a sequence of ideas. 

Additional Thoughts: 

Because there are three sections to the stairs with landing between floors, I used that format to write six paragraphs. The first paragraph presents the idea of ritual as movement, and movement as reading. The second paragraph explores the act of making books as a form of thinking. The third paragraph confirms that ‘the book is an essential part of who I am’. The fourth examines book space and reading as traveling. The fifth examines disparate ideas of communicating stories, paper & movement. The final paragraph confirms the interrelationship between stairs & books. And, that the stairs of the library can be seen as a stack of books.


Behind the text, the viewer can see printed imagery of an MTA subway map that has been filigree-cut for another book of mine about psycho-geographical movement through NYC. This imagery seemed appropriate, as I would consider myself a paper/book/language artist, who makes descriptive and emotional responses to environments. Maps name places; they are not the place itself but its referent, just as books are containers of ideas, and not the thing itself.

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