Rachel Delph is an interdisciplinary, multimedia, conceptual artist. She comes from a training in art and architecture at the University of Toronto.
The installation of Delph's fifty-four 'book dummy/ diptychs' at De Luca Fine Art offers the viewer a unique reflection on the reading of books in an age when ebooks seem to have taken over from the physical objects. We are drawn back into the ancient ritual of reading and writing through multi-layered artworks which, as they unfold, reveal their inner core and mystery. At first sight, when closed, they look like hybrid library placeholders (book dummies), with the name of the university on top (the artist spent endless hours among the stacks of the various libraries on campus), the call number, author, title, and the reason the original book is not there. Open, they suggest real printed books, their origins in the ancient sacred diptych format, and evoke a “gestalt” view of excerpts from fifty-four classic novels, masterpieces of European and Canadian literature, accompanied by annotations from anonymous scholarly readers. What appears on the left is a portrait of an author in pencil, who finally has a face and can therefore be identified, partly superimposed on the exact facsimile transcription of a printed page, rigorously done by hand in archival ink: from Graham Greene to Robertson Davies, from Italo Calvino to Leonard Cohen, from James Joyce to Margaret Atwood, from Herman Hesse to Michael Ondaatje. The marginal annotations and the underlining of the physical copies of the books, faithfully reproduced, instead of being considered a defacement detracting from the literary page(s), provide a sort of living text in use over time/in active use. In this way, the passage represented on the artwork examines human interaction between the physical book and the reader evoking local histories and legends that have universal resonance.
These multimedia sculptural works become also architectural installations, tactile and of great emotional and spiritual impact. Rachel Delph’s ‘books' are presented above shelves and can be read by the light of a votive candle so that the graphite of the drawing and the gold leaf on the edges and spine of the book shimmer and suggest the ancient magic of illuminated manuscripts. Moreover, the shadow of the light provides a virtual frame to the artwork. In this perspective, the book becomes sacred again, suspended between the tangible and the intangible. Most of the time we read in a hurry, but these diptychs entice a different kind of reading; they invite the viewer to enter the text as it has lived in time, enclosing a sacred image that once open in privacy reveals a secret, a path to a new awareness.
ACHEBE, Chinua. Things Fall Apart.
ATWOOD, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale.
BURGESS, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange.
BURROUGHS, William S. The Ticket that Exploded.
BUTLER, Octavia. The Parable of the Sower.
CALVINO, Italo. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler.
CAMUS, Albert. The Fall.
CARROLL, Lewis. Through the Looking Glass.
COCTEAU, Jean. The Difficulty of Being.
COHEN, Leonard. Beautiful Losers.
CONRAD, Joseph. Heart of Darkness.
DAVIES, Robertson. A Mixture of Frailties.
DINESEN, Isak. Out of Africa.
DURAS, Marguerite. The Lover.
FINDLAY, Timothy. The Wars.
FITZGERALD, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.
FORSTER, E. M. A Room with a View.
GOLDING, William. The Lord of the Flies.
GREENE, Graham. Travels with My Aunt.
HARDY, Thomas. The Return of the Native.
HEMINGWAY, Ernest. To Have and Have Not.
HESSE, Herman. Steppenwolf.
HUXLEY, Aldous. Brave New World.
IRVING, John. A Prayer for Owen Meany.
JAMES, Henry. The Turn of the Screw.
JOYCE, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
KEROUAC, Jack. Big Sur.
KUNDERA, Milan. Immortality.
LAWERENCE, D. H. Women in Love.
LEE, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird.
LENNON, John. In His Own Write.
LEWIS, C. S. Till We Have Faces.
MARQUEZ, Gabriel Garcia. Love in the Time of Cholera.
MAUGHAM, Somerset. Of Human Bondage.
MILLER, Henry. Tropic of Cancer.
NABOKOV, Vladimir. Lolita.
NAIPAUL, V. S. A House for Mr. Biswas.
O’CONNOR, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find.
ONDAATJE, Michael. In the Skin of a Lion.
ORWELL, George. 1984.
PLATH, Slyvia. The Bell Jar.
REMARQUE, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front.
RHYS, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea.
RICHARDS, Keith. Life.
RICHLER, Mordecai. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.
SALINGER, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye.
SARTRE, Jean-Paul. The Words.
SPARK, Muriel. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
STEINBECK, John. Of Mice and Men.
ST. EXPUREY, Antoine de. The Little Prince.
VONNEGUT, Kurt. Slaughterhouse Five.
WAUGH, Evelyn. Brideshead Revisited.
WILDE, Oscar. A Portrait of Dorian Gray.
WOOLF, Virginia. The Waves.
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