Book as Timekeeper: Aqua Alta, Michel Blazy

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Michel Blazy‘s Aqua Alta was displayed at the 2017 Venice BiennaleAt first sight the work looks like a neat stack of pristine books. On closer inspection they better resemble catalogues or fashion magazines. In actual fact they are anonymous leaflets, featuring scenes which appear to relate to Venice. Looking even closer one can see ridges and channels cut into the paper, like a small landscape of canyons and valleys.

Michel Blazy, Aqua Alta, 2017
Michel Blazy, Aqua Alta, 2017. Image © Chris Gibson, 2017

The edges of the pages are blackened and warped. Drops of water fall from height, gouging the paper with each impact and breaking it down. It’s not clear how long these papers have been subjected to the drops of water, but the cumulative result is surprising. There is something unsettling in the contrast between the vibrant scenes of Venice and the soiled, slowly decaying paper, as if these are two spheres of life that shouldn’t really meet.

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