Alexander Korzer-Robinson


Written by Barney Cox
14 Wednesday 14th November 2012

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into making art.

I have always been making art, working in different media from painting and drawing to ceramics and paper art. I chose to read psychology though, because whilst I was passionate about art, I couldn't picture myself carving a living out of being an artist. Until a few years ago, this was mainly a hobby which I pursued quite obsessively, but a hobby nonetheless. I don't consider myself a self-taught artist though, because while I didn't attend art school, I did receive a good art education throughout my life.

Describe to us your career in art, from when you first started to where you are now.

When I started making the cut books, it quickly took up so much of my time, that I had to make a decision. Would I be serious about my art and take the plunge of dedicating all my time to it? Or muddle along trying to hold a day job and pushing the art further in the limited free time that remained? It was quite daunting taking that step, and it still is. I was lucky to find galleries that are fantastic to work with, who represent my work well.

Your pieces are very striking. What drew you to books as an art medium?

About five years ago I had began experimenting with paper art, and making boxed paper constructions. I used all sorts of printed paper - among them second hand books. It took me about a year of trial and error to refine the technique into the ‘cut books’ I make these days. I love working with these old materials and engaging with a particular book as I shape it into something new. I also enjoy the process of finding new books to work with, and spend hours in old book shops finding the right materials.

What were the thoughts and inspirations which motivated you to start book-sculpting?

Obviously one can't get around the fact that these objects are made out of a book. An interpretation about the function of books as carriers of information, especially in the age of the internet and e-books, is closest to hand. For me, however, the work is more about nostalgia, the nature of remembering, and the act of constructing personal (or general) history. I am trying to create narrative cohesion out of a body of formerly unrelated elements. When I start a new cut book, I set out with a rough composition, but as I work through the book, this composition changes organically in relation to what I uncover. 

Some may view your work as a kind of destruction. How do you view what you do?

There is a sentiment that books are sacrosanct, and some might find what I do to be destructive. It's a valid point, in that a book which I have cut up can not be read again. 
On the other hand, the books I use, even though quite old, aren't particularly rare, nor is the information in them lost forever when those books disappear. Thousands of books end up in landfills every day, or are being recycled. Rare books don't become rare because someone cut up the existing volumes to turn them into art.

Old books evoke in some bibliophiles a desire to preserve them, to put them on their bookshelves, merely because they are old. What are your thoughts on this?

The feedback I get from bibliophiles is mostly positive. I think for bibliophiles the physical attributes of a book are just as important as the content. One could say that I preserve the physicality of the books I have used by giving them a new purpose as an object of art. I completely understand the desire to preserve old books just because they are old. Eventually though, these books, these art objects, and everything else, will all turn to dust.

Visit Alexander's website for more of his work, and keep an eye out for a string of exhibitions including a solo show and a permanent residency in a Parisien gallery.

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