Book as Habitat: Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges, Carol Bove

A couple of years back I came across this beautiful artwork by Brooklyn-based artist Carol Bove as part of an exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute. Bove’s artwork was presented alongside that of Italian architect/sculptor Carlo Scarpa (who’s garden was home to Lee Mingwei’s artwork When Beauty Visits).

Carol Bove - Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges
Carol Bove, ‘Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges’. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

The artwork itself is seemingly simple; three shelves with books and various everyday objects. The books seem to be of a particular type (academic texts, social theory etc.) and the objects seem to relate to learning or study.

Carol Bove - Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges
Carol Bove, ‘Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges’. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

Viewed together the books, objects and shelves evoke a particular time period and create the feeling of someone’s study, or perhaps the office or a doctor or an academic. It’s if we’re seeing through a window into a sliver of someone’s life.

Carol Bove - Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges
Carol Bove, ‘Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges’. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

I love the way that such a sparse collection can convey so much and even without us having to open any of the books a story is already being created. A friend once said that books create habitats, and seeing this work I knew exactly what he meant.

Carol Bove - Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges
Carol Bove, ‘Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges’. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

Bove is primarily known as a sculptor and her minimalist work has a simple, self-contained aesthetic. Seen in this light, the books, the ready made objects and the shelves all become raw materials for the artist to sculpt with, a process that has resulted in a confident and engaging work.


Further Reading:

Carol Bove and Carlo Scarpa by Philippe Duboy, 2014

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