Doug Beube’s Frozen Books Installation in Brooklyn Tackles Climate Change and Geopolitics

This past weekend and through yesterday, Brooklyn-based book artist Doug Beube offered his neighborhood a look at Dissolve, his latest sculptural bookwork, an “environmentally sensitive” piece that focuses on two books encased in blocks of ice.

Dissolve 01a.jpegHe explained in a statement: “One book is Arab and Jew; Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land by David K. Shipler and the other is The High Walls of Jerusalem by Roland Sanders. The word ABRAHAM is carved into the books--A-B-R on the left side and A-H-A-M, on the other. As the ice melts, the water is captured by two steel plinths that drain into one tank. The water is dispensed into bottles with labels that read dis/SOLUTION.”

Dissolve 02.jpeg“Abraham” references the religious leader, and “Carving ABR/AHAM into the two books that are frozen represents a combative discourse in which one side no longer hears the other--a form of censorship... As the ice dissolves and the water is collected, the knowledge and contents of the authors’ insights are comingled, becoming an unexpurgated dialogue. Water, and metaphorically dialogue, is a precious resource for both peoples in an arid land, which might be sprinkled onto the terrain to nourish a solution for peace and the prosperity.”

Dissolve 04.jpegBeube studied photography at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY, before moving into collage, papermaking, and bookbinding. His bookworks have included Seed Book (1980), made from straw paper, seeded pulp, and hemp twine; Pocket Book (1992), in which two books -- one philosophy, one mystery -- are encased in green leather and sealed with brass zippers; and Facebook (2009), an altered phonebook that can be used as a mask. He has used frozen books in other installations, as well, including 1988’s Chair of Censorship and 2014’s Melt. Beube published a collection of his work in 2011 titled Doug Beube: Breaking the Codex. He was also featured in a column written by fellow book artist Richard Minsky in our winter 2014 issue, as well as on our blog.

Images: Installation of Dissolve by Doug Beube. Altered book, ice, metal stand, glass bottles. 68 x 112 x 16 inches, 2018. Courtesy of Doug Beube.

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