Twelve sheets of newsprint overpainted on both sides multiple times with acrylic. Four-hole stab binding with waxed black cord. H200 x W425 mm. Acquired from the artist, 6 July 2019.
On several fronts, Vandstand contributes richly to this collection: its inspiration from climate change, its visual narrative, its technique leading to its unusual tactile quality and its binding and format.
Denmark claims the lowest point below sea level in the European Union: Lammefjord, which is nearly 7 meters below sea level. Not surprisingly, Rosenberg notes that the key words associated with her inspiration for Vandstand were “global warming”, “floods”, “harbour” as well as “Venice”, “Copenhagen” and “Bristol”, places she has visited and in which she has exhibited. So with those thoughts in mind, she applied layer after layer of acrylic paint to both sides of sheets of newsprint torn carefully into rectangles of 200 x 425 millimetres.
“What I wanted to accomplish I was not sure, but I knew I would recognize it when I achieved it, so I painted the sea darker, lighter, warmer or colder — I moved the horizon line a bit up or down until I was satisfied” (Correspondence with Books On Books, 5 December 2019).
The word “vandstand” means “water level”.
As the water level rises, falls, and rises, the turning pages are cold to the touch and rough at the edges and on their surfaces.
They flex like thick sheets of rubber, leather or whale skin. They drape over the hand turning them. If left open, the book’s pages take on the curved shape in which they rest, and when closed, they hold the shape, relaxing slowly back to flatness.
The effect is that of swells in a harbour.
At first glance, the book’s only text looks stencilled, but on closer inspection, it looks handwritten. It appears only on the two strips of painted binding board, which on front and back give the impression of barrier walls against the sea. Poring over Vandstand again and again, I’m reminded of a poem from another northern latitude:
“Neither Out Far Nor In Deep”
The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.
As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull
The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be,
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.
They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
Btu when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?
— Robert Frost
Bodil Rosenberg is a member of Artists’ Books Group CNG, founded in 2006.
Entry at artistsbooks.dk. Accessed 1 December 2019.