Books On Books Collection – Eleonora Cumer

variazione (2015)

variazione (2015)
Eleonora Cumer
Linocut on card and tarlatana. Unique.
H287 x 416 mm closed.
Showing front and back covers.
Acquired from the artist, 16 September 2017.

Centrally open view, showing printed linen crape (tarlatana) pages.

Views of the three “double-page spreads.

Open envelope for note of thanks. Container for the work.
Both with pin-pricked and thread-sewn images.
Container initialed and dated on reverse.

scultura da viaggio dipinta n.2 (2017)

scultura da viaggio dipinta n.2/ sculpture de poche peinte n. 2 (2017)
Eleonora Cumer
Single sheet of card, cut and painted front and back.
Unique, embossed with artist’s stamp and initialed.
H250 x W116 mm closed, H250 x W270 mm open.
Acquired from the artist, 16 September 2017.

Cumer’s scultura da viaggio builds on Bruno Munari’s portable or “travelling sculptures”, but they could just as easily have emerged from her own earlier works such as l’attesa, visioni urbani and contaminazione.

l’attesa/ l’attente (2010)

l’attesa/ l’attente (2010)
Eleonora Cumer
Three-dimensional accordion book with painted front and back pages in painted case.
H135 x W125 mm closed, H135 x W 1200 mm open.
Unique. Acquired from the artist, 16 September 2017.
Selected for the Abracadabra Bookcase Exhibition, Barcelona, May 2010.

Internal and external views of open cover.

“Reading” the opened concertina l’attesa (“the wait”).

Front view of l’attesa.

Rear view of l’attesa.

visioni urbane/ visions urbane (2015)

visioni urbani/visions urbane (2015)
Eleonora Cumer
Three cards, tri-fold, painted front and back, and cut, encased in a duo-fold sheet, painted on one side.
H240 x 150 mm closed, H240 x 600 mm open
Unique. Acquired from the artist, 16 September 2017.

Opening the work.

Rear view, top view.

contaminazione (2015)

contaminazione (2015)
Eleonora Cumer
Four sheets of card, each cut and folded into three panels.
H300 x W300 mm closed, H300 x 900 mm open.
Acquired from the artist, 16 September 2017.

View of the four component cards.

Duo-fold gray cover H302 x W315 mm closed, H302 x W943 mm open.
Fourth component card, initialed and dated by the artist.

il giardino della mia VITA (2015)

il giardino della mia VITA (2015)
Eleonora Cumer
Hand-sewn booklet of hand-stamped photo-collaged paper. Glassine envelope, glued to page 6, contains shards of coloured glass.
H288 x W205 mm closed, H288 x W410 open.
Edition of 50 numbered and signed, of which this is #20.
Acquired from the artist, 16 September 2017.

The text in English: “The garden of my life: my life like a garden or better”

PAROLE (2015)

Parole (2015)
Eleonora Cumer
Hand-sewn booklet of hand-stamped photo-collaged paper. Glassine envelope, glued to page 2, contains slip of lined paper hand-stamped with the letters of the word “parole” superimposed on one another in two groups.
H288 x W205 mm closed, H288 x W410 open
Edition of 50 numbered and signed, of which this is #20.
Acquired from the artist, 16 September 2017.

The text in English: ”Words: unreadable words, incomplete words, unspoken words”

Conflitti (2015)


Conflitti (2015)
Eleonora Cumer
Hand-sewn booklet of hand-stamped photo-collaged paper. German air rifle training disc (distance 10 m) sewn with red thread and glued to cover; exiting on page 1, the red thread crosses to pages two and three; page two includes a pastedown grid, labelled in its margin with the abbreviation for an anti-cholergenic incapacitating chemical weapon.
H288 x W205 mm closed, H288 x W410 open.
Edition of 50 numbered and signed, of which this is #16.
Acquired from the artist, 16 September 2017.

The text in English: “Conflict: the flight to the sea to meet death in search of a new land”

Circoscrivere lo spazio (2021)

Circoscrivere lo spazio No. 3 (2021)
Eleonora Cumer
Booklet with alternating folios of papers and folded inserts. H275 x W200. mmEdition of 15, of which this is #10. Acquired from the artist, 26 May 2021. Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Circoscrivere lo spazio No. 3 (2021) Eleonora Cumer Edition of 15, of which this is #10. Acquired from the artist, 26 May 2021. Photos: Books On Books Collection.

The thick stroke of black on the front cover runs downwards, then veers diagonally and upwards to the right. As it does, it narrows, reddens and loops over a leftward thrust suggesting a needle crossing under the moderately thick red stroke that tilts off center. The two thin red stitch-like lines further down the length of that off-center stroke strengthens the suggestion. Something is being bound or stitched together.

When the booklet opens, a translucent page appears on the right. It bears three black squares, but an off-center fourth peeks through them. As the translucent page turns, a crackling sound startles while the page with the off-center square comes into view. It is made of the same paper as the front cover but inked slightly less yellow than is the inside of the front cover. The smudges lightening the upper righthand corner of the fourth black square fool the eye into seeing another translucent layer, an illusion strengthened by another illusion. Looking to the left, the eye sees through the real translucent sheet the white margins at the foot and center of the inside front cover, and it appears that the translucent sheet has the same margins and an undertone of yellow aligned with that on the inside front cover. Not so.

The next two double-page spreads tease and hint to the eye in the same and different ways. Stitching images like those on the front cover reappear but now enlarged. Another crackling sheet of translucent paper covers an enlarged black square, which turns out to be an insert of black paper embroidered with red thread. When the hooked-needle image overlays the other stitchery images on the white verso page, it becomes clear that the insert hides another smaller insert. Smaller, yes, but with its own widening surprise — two valley folds that are really mountain folds when the insert unfolds completely over the double-page spread.

All of these “deceptions” — and others to come in the booklet — involve circumvention of circumscription. Circoscrivere lo spazio (“To circumscribe space”) and the next work are Cumer’s most sophisticated metaphoric works in the Books On Books Collection.

Cercare nella memoria (2021)

Cercare nella memoria (2021)
Eleonora Cumer
Booklet of translucent papers, center sewn, hole-punched and strung together with a single thread. H195 x W140 mm. Edition of 15, of which this is #1. Acquired from the artist, 26 May 2021.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Each copy is printed with a photocopier, then subjected to different manual interventions: embroidered images in red thread, ink and watercolor, wax seals, a translucent white single-sheet insert, and collage with tarlatana. The binding is twofold: a single brown thread sewn through the fold of the gathered folios, and a punched hole through which a single red thread is loosely strung, secured with a single stitch through the spine and two drops of sealing wax, one on the back and one on the front over a knot in the thread.

Each of these material and technical details, by itself and together, contributes to the meaning of this work, spelled out in its title: Cercare nella memoria (“To seek in memory”). When we speak of searching our memories, we speak in metaphors and images. Many of them are here in this booklet: pulling on a thread, losing the thread, picking up the thread, tying a string around a finger, circling in on something, holes in recollection, and peeling back layers of memory. The drops of sealing wax might jog the memory of Giordano Bruno’s Thirty Seals, the third volume in his Art of Memory. Pulling on that thread might lead to the discovery of a resemblance between Bruno’s seals and Cumer’s images.

Cercare is smaller than Circoscrivere. It may, perhaps, have fewer moving parts. But it is more dense, more crowded, more delicate, and more violent with its splashing red and lines crashing across one another — and, for anyone who thinks seriously about memory, more frightening.

Giordano Bruno’s “The Bookbinder” seal from Julia Buntaine Hoel’s “The Art of Memory” (2018 to present). Accessed 27 June 2021.

Further Reading

Eleonora Cumer”, WorldCat Identities. Accessed 5 September 2019.

Cumer, Eleonora. “At school of artist’s books”, Topipittori, n.d. Accessed 5 September 2019.

Cumer, Eleonora. “From travel sculpture to scenography”, Topipittori, n.d. Accessed 5 September 2019.

Cumer, Eleonora. “Books that are born from books”, Topipittori, n.d. Accessed 5 September 2019.

Quinz, Anna. “People I know: Eleonora Cumer and her world of books (artist’s)”, Franzmagazine, 25 July 2012. Accessed 5 September 2019.

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