Today, we’re pleased to share another glimpse into artist Anja Notanja Sieger’s creative process! This installment of her guest blog series examines how libraries and library materials influence her art, and confronts the question: will people read books in 10 years? Don’t miss the other posts: Libraries Fuel Creativity, and Everyone is a Library of Experiences. ~Erinn
In Which She is Challenged to a Duel
I was challenged a duel last month while reading “Significant Objects,” Edited by Rob Walker & Joshua Glenn. In it, writers were invited to write fictional descriptions for undesirable objects intended for auction on Amazon.com. Ugly knick-knacks, pottery and the like acquired new false memories dreamed up by the writers. The fiction worked a makeover, and some items sold for many times more than the starting bid.
Wanting to invent instant respect like that, I got a booth at an art fair to sell on-demand poetry, love letters, letters of recommendation, insult letters, and flash fiction from my typewriter.
Many girlfriends requested love letters and upon seeing the results they cried joyously. Days later I got an email from a boyfriend who had received one of my love letters and wanted me to write something back to his girlfriend. I wrote a response, but it was an absurd situation. I was becoming Florentino Ariza from Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a book I read months ago. In it, Florentino influences a couple to marry each other by selling them love letters to give each other.
Also like young Florentino Ariza I often feel and act ancient. My latest papercut was thus named “Old Dragon Recalls Their Youth,” 25.5 x 20 inches, all razor cut.
To generate new art I sometimes need a game, sometimes I need a book and sometimes just a threat.
I received such a threat mere days ago at a pizza party. I was introduced to someone who works for Google. As he wiped the cheese from his mouth he made the following (casual!) statement: “Yeah, in another 10 years people won’t even be reading books anymore.” Instantly I felt an intense distaste for him and of the computer-chip-brain-implant future he works for.
The next day I woke up to ideas swarming in my head: “I need to birth a book center. Not just another library, not a museum for preservation… something alive.” I am now drawing up plans for a Book Alive Center. A place for making, writing and presenting books and stories. A place that will open in exactly 10 years and survive. I am writing a zine about this place to give to people who I feel can make this place exist. Extremist? Radical? Nuts? Pointless? I’ll see.
Anja’s annotated booklist:
- Up the Down Staircase, Bel Kaufman. I wonder how many people wood even get all the speling jokes in hear n e more.
- Louvre, Foreward by Henri Loyrette, Abrams Press. For all the detail and care that today’s minds have little patience for anymore.
- If on a Winter’s Night A Traveler, Italo Calvino. I must admit I hadn’t the patience to finish this one, but I think few could make it through.
- Say You’re One of Them, Uwem Akpan. Life in impoverished Africa is different than mine.
- When My Brother Was an Aztec, Natalie Diaz. Good medicine.
- Wildeworld: the Art of John Wilde, organized by Russell Panczenko, with an essay by Theodore F. Wolff. Detailed, traditionally trained, but full of the sexism of the tradition too.
Anja Notanja Sieger is a Milwaukee-based artist who works in multiple art forms, including cut paper. You can find her online at anjanotanja.com.Pin It