From the covers of René Descartes’s Cogito Ergo Sum and Homer’s The Odyssey emerge vast webs of spliced pages. Artist Barbara Wildenboer (previously) overlaps countless strands of paper as part of her ongoing Library of the Infinitesimally Small and Unimaginably Large series. The new sculptures similarly feature masses of fringed pages, with the hand-cut forms lining the edges of the opened texts and peeking through the hollowed covers. Each spine is left intact.
Wildenboer tells Colossal she’s been preparing for SUPER/NATURAL, a solo exhibition in November at Everard Read, that considers the relationship between science and the supernatural and has influenced her recent choices in books. Alongside photographic collages, the text-based sculptures “function as narrative clues, intertexts, or ‘subtitles,’” she says.
A lot of the new book works deal with subject matter that relate to my understanding of the nature of invisible or quantum reality—a reality that we cannot see with our physical eyes. Where nature is the visible realm, supernature also operates on ‘natural’ laws, although we can’t always see them, i.e. for example, magnetism, gravity, and electricity, the celestial orbits, and star cycles. But it’s all levels of ‘nature.’
Since Cape Town, where Wildenboer is based, was locked down due to COVID-19, she’s been altering the vintage copies she’s had stored. The result is sculptural series fashioned from the pages of Camera Obscura, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Inventions, and the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Compared to the massive encyclopedias and atlases she often utilizes, the smaller works appear almost miniature.
To keep up with Wildenboer’s sprawling artworks, head to Instagram.