Doug Beube rebels against one of the 20th century’s strongest taboos by sawing and slicing books into pieces, an act of destruction and transformation, turning literary relics into works of art.
Students and faculty gathered in the multimedia room of the DiMenna-Nyselius at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27 to see the world-famous sculptor speak about his body of work, in a talk titled, “Biblioclast: Breaking the Codex.” “Everybody loves babies, puppies and books,” said Beube, a casual lecturer, the audience responding with muffled laughter.
“I view the codex with the span of its body and its spine as a metaphor for the human form with its story as a metaphor for human expression,” said Beube.
Beube’s work revolves around adapting the nearly obsolete object, the book, in the digital age. He cuts, twists and ultimately transforms books into stunning, often architectural landscapes, using the text as an abstract form.
When asked in an exclusive interview with The Mirror how his methodology for creating art could apply to Fairfield students’ education, he said, “It’s about exploration. For me it was the book. For someone else it may be painting, film, dance, poetry, but it’s making a commitment to it and exploring it and really having fun with it.”
His basic principle has been to push this singular idea of repurposing the codex to its absolute limits, which is why he has been working almost exclusively with books for over 30 years.
“Well everyone might be able to come up with one idea,” said Beube, “but how do you really push the ideas further?”
Many of Beube’s sculptures subvert the idea that art needs to be protected behind a fortress of red tape in Museums. “I want people to actually turn the pages of the work.” His work emphasizes the importance of interacting with art, touching it, and really feeling it.
When the floor opened up for questions, assistant professor of English Carol Ann Davis asked Beube “if people are ever frustrated when they try to read something across and can’t.”
“Frustration is good,” responded Beube, “it means we have to stop, we have to slow down and we have to reassess rather than go exactly to the end of what our expectations are.”
Approximately 60 students and faculty attended the event.
“It’s so novel,” Arturo Jaras Watts ’14 said, “it’s a real invitation to see things differently and depart from the norm.”
Senior Jeffrey Brown stated, “It was definitely incredible that he had such a visual imagination to be able to create pieces with the physical book itself while also incorporating the content of the book into his art.”
“[Beube] looks at objects or images and finds shapes that other people wouldn’t. He has a fascinating way of spontaneously seeing ideas all over the place,” said John Driscoll ‘14.