The Bookmann does

Posted in Opinion, Trinidad and Tobago by Adele Todd on September 27, 2008

A study of illusion and reality, parody, humour and humanity

Look at the site, over the last few days and you shall be in for a treat. He appropriates the famous and inserts himself, in an intrusive way, yet miraculously melts into the facial structures as though he always belonged there. His is a representation of historical references, masquerade, charade, pun and other visual cues that encourage observation and discussion on reality, fantasy, iconography, and even Photoshop trickery.

It is known that The Bookmann and I have been friends for most of our lives, and naturally I would have a bias where his work is concerned. However, we critique each others practice all of the time, and because we are friends, we are more mindful of the other’s ability. Ours is a constant desire to push through to the highest quality that is possible and then some.

I am particularly appreciative of his Marilyn Monroe and Josephine Baker, although I do not think that it was necessary to include his many attempts at Baker’s facial features. Perhaps I am affected by the fact that Ms. Baker lived in a time where black face was considered quite acceptable, and her role in entertainment was one of working with the socio-political boundaries of the time and endeavouring to transcend them.

The Bookmann’s face, inside of the space for the face of Marilyn and for Josephine makes you think that he is eavesdropping on their consciousness. At first you do not see his facial structure, but hers. Her image is so famous, that you expect nothing less. Then it dawns on you that it is not her face you see, and although it is not her face, you accept it anyway.

To literally stand in history and to get into the mindset of the poses of the past, takes a preparedness from the artist. I am sure that The Bookmann had had to get himself into a mental space to create these still Performances.

He also forces the viewer to ask whether his meaning is about his own personal desire for his own fame, because he uses himself repeatedly. Or is it that he is attempting to channel historical moments? In the Giotto work where he is the angel, there is an acute sense of stillness, reverence and beauty. It is possible that his insertion here makes you review Giotto again, as though with fresh perspective because his is a digitized placement that brightens up the classical.

A study of illusion and reality, parody, humour and humanity

The Durer self portrait is almost seamless, as the original overpowers the eyes, nose and mouth of The Bookmann, it is still Durer to us, even though he has been visually violated. Casting one’s views to the female portraiture and the posing and posturing of female sexuality, the violation of beauty is subtle. The breasts of Josephine are intensified because her face has been appropriated. You look at her body and you sense the heaviness of it. Or maybe the perception is more acute.

The Bookmann’ s series can be seen online, but a show of this work would also be worthwhile.

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