Double Sided Shortcomings
altered book, acrylic, walnut box, acrylic top
12 x 12 x 7 in.
‘Shortcomings’ is the original title of the graphic novel by cartoonist Adrian Tomine. It was published by Drawn and Quarterly in Montreal, Canada in 2007. The genre of this art form with seven to nine cells per page, in a gridded format, is drawn in black and white with ‘speech bubbles’ floating overhead of the characters in the book. In the ongoing series of collage and bookwooks, the removal and outlining of the drawings and speech bubbles using a surgeon’s knife is arduous. Reducing the content to line drawings, the pages become veiled layers, a dissected essence of the story that the brain comprehends as both linear and abstract. Between the two, narrative and abstraction, it invites the viewer to literally read between the lines and pages.
In a digital world where the ubiquitous book is subverted by social media such as Facebook and Instagram, for example, the notion of the book itself becoming obsolete or even worse the individual, for some, can be terrifying. In a digital age what individual doesn’t feel at times to be an abstraction, anonymous or faceless.
Along with the meticulously cut windows are ten clear acrylic boxes. Each box holds all of the detritus, cut parts or redacted bits removed from the graphic novel. The chaotic collection of puzzle-like fragments in the boxes corresponds to the respective layered pages. Repurposing the incisions suggests that someone, who is equally as obsessive as the artist to remove the bits, might replace them to their original site, like a jigsaw puzzle or interactive digital format. Firstly, the displacement then secondly, the replacement of bits completes the cyclical actions. The unending conversation, a repurposing on top of repurposing, potentially a collaboration between the artist and someone else; the artwork is a verb rather than a noun.