Books On Books Collection – Lucia Mindlin Loeb

A photographer since 1991, Brazilian Lucia Mindlin Loeb turned to the book as the surface and form for her art. Works such as Livro sobre Livros (“Book about Books“), Entre páginas (“Between Pages”) and Biblioteca (“Library“) speak to an academic fascination with the structural elements of the book — especially its volume, edges, pages and spine. Along with Memória fotográfica (“Photographic memory”), they explore what photography and the book can tell us about time, space, memory, the world we see and a familial experience of it. The works below from the Books On Books Collection show only a fraction of how far beyond the photobook Loeb has gone.

Abismo (2012)

Abismo (2012)
Lucia Mindlin Loeb
Front and back card covers on a sewn, exposed-spine book block cut diagonally into two volumes, each housed in a custom archival box.
H210 x W210 x D175 cm. Edition of 5 and 2 artist’s proofs, of which this is A/P #2. Acquired from the artist, 5 October 2022.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Fore-edge view (L) and spine view (R) of the cut halves resting against each other.

Close up of spine.

With the two halves open and positioned properly, their parallel opening and page turning soon creates a disorientation. The top half thickens and narrows, while the bottom half thickens and deepens.

Below, a close-up view of the abyss and the cliffwalkers evokes a sense of precariousness and vertigo.

Few books allow views of double-page spreads simultaneously from two different places in the book, and varying the position of the two halves can widen the abyss.

The brief clip below conveys more of the disorienting effects that “reading” this work offers. Perhaps the same feelings the cliffwalkers experienced.

Devaneio (2015)

Devaneio (2015)
Lucia Mindlin Loeb
Exposed spine book block, handsewn and glued, loose in trifold case. H180 x W130 x D3 mm. 384 pages. Edition of 12, of which this is #5. Acquired from the artist, 5 October 2022.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.


Devaneio means “daydream”, which is certainly elicited by the thick black line undulating over the hills and valleys optically created by the thinner lines parallel to each other and the thicker line. Over the first seventeen pages, the thick line appears only at the bottom of the recto page, but almost imperceptibly rises up the page.

First recto page

Seventeenth recto page

As the seventeenth recto page turns, another thick line begins its descent seemingly from outside the top edge of the eighteenth verso page. From here on, in their respective downward and upward movements, the thick lines on the verso and recto pages appear headed for convergence. The stroboscopic effect of the background of tightly packed thinner lines enhances this appearance of downward and upward motion. Although they converge, the thick lines skip over any direct intersection and continue their journeys toward the bottom edge of the verso page and top edge of the recto page.

The thick line on the verso page makes its appearance.

The lines begin to converge,

but do not intersect.

The lines diverge, the verso continuing downwards and the recto, upwards.

As the daydream begins to end, the upward bound thick line has almost disappeared at the top of its recto page. As the page turns, only the downward bound thick line remains to finish its journey at the bottom of the last verso page, the last page of the book. Of course, the the thick line’s end position on the last verso page is the same as its start position on the first recto page.

The upward bound thick line almost gone on the recto page.

The thick line has gone from the recto page.

The thick line at rest on the last verso page.

The crossover of the verso and recto thick lines can be observed on the book’s fore edge, and the thinner lines’ stroboscopic effect shows up even on the top and bottom edges.

Memória de Você (2011)

Memória de Você (2011)
Lucia Mindlin Loeb
Spiral bound harlequinade. H205 x W145 mm. 32 pages. Edition of 500. Acquired from the artist, 5 October 2022.
Video: © Lucia Mindlin Loeb. Photos: Books On Books Collection. Displayed with permission of the artist.

Devised by Robert Sayer (1756), “harlequinade” was a form of children’s book. Also called a “metamorphosis” or “turn-up” book, its pages were cut horizontally so that their parts could turn independently of one another and generate amusing mix-and-mismatch images. Book artists such as Emily Martin have seized on the form to great satirical effect.

Loeb’s “Memories of You” maintains the form’s comic nature but blends it with the forms of the photobook and family photograph album to deliver a whimsical and sentimental celebration of four generations. Loeb plays her title’s deliberate ambiguity out with the form’s interchange of resemblances in faces, poses and costumes and lifts her work out of mere sentimentality. The video below provides a better view of the work than would photos of the book.

The sculptural mastery in Loeb’s works makes for intriguing and enjoyable comparison with that of Doug Beube, Andrew Hayes and Guy Laramée in the Books On Books Collection, while the photographic mastery calls up Scott Kernan, Marlene MacCallum and Michael Snow for similar revisits.

Further Reading

Doug Beube“. 21 April 2020. Books On Books Collection.

Andrew Hayes“. 4 September 2019. Books On Books Collection.

Guy Laramée“. 18 September 2019. Books On Books Collection.

Scott Kernan“. 22 February 2019. Books On Books Collection.

Marlene MacCallum“. 2 September 2019. Books On Books Collection.

Emily Martin“. 22 November 2018. Bookmarking Book Art.

Michael Snow“. 3 March 2021. Books On Books Collection.

Borsuk, Amaranth. 10 October 2018. “The Book as Recombinant Structure: A Century of Art and Experimental Books“. The Writing Platform.

McLeish, Simon. 27 May 2008. “Harlequinades“. The Conveyor. Bodleian Libraries Centre for the Study of the Book. Accessed 28 October 2022.

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.