Books On Books Collection – Zazie Sazonoff

L’Alphabet Zinzin (2011)

L’Alphabet Zinzin (2011)
Zazie Sazonoff
Casebound, paper over board. H370 x W280 mm. 52 unnumbered pages. Acquired from Amazon, 31 January 2022.
Photos: Books On Books Collection. Displayed with permission of Nathalie Sazonoff.

Zazie Sazonoff describes herself as a metteur en scène d’objets. Like mise en scène, it is an expression that is difficult to translate. It is easier to point at her works and say, “There, that’s what a metteur en scène d’objets does”. With its arrangement of toys from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s on the verso page, L’Alphabet Zinzin presents uppercase, lowercase and lowercase cursive letters on the recto pages and a variety of words beginning with the relevant letter. Zinzin means crazy or zany. As part of France’s National Education’s literature reference list for cycle 1, L’Alphabet Zinzin‘s zaniness must engage the imaginations of its young audience.

“Zany” was a frequent fallback for the letter Z in English abecedaries of the 18th and 19th centuries, but this is a whole zany alphabet that should engage the imaginations of an older audience, too. There seems to be something more going on: Flick the pages back and forth quickly and you might think you are catching the objects moving into place. Are there activities or untold stories behind the scenes?

On Sazonoff’s website, you can find under Projets two works that suggest influences from Man Ray, Luis Buñuel and film noir: Rêve: livre animé and Têtes à queue: roman graphique, but the titles and recurrence of paper pop-ups show the continued grounding of her art in the book form. Petites Curiosités, under the section Art, suggest the influence of Joseph Cornell, perhaps the founding genius of the mise-en-scène in assemblage of found objects. With these works as context, L’Alphabet Zinzin teeters on the cusp of becoming an artist’s book. It certainly compares favorably with Peter Blake’s ABC (2009) and Leslie Haines’ Animal Abecedary (2018).

Further Reading

Abecedaries I (in progress)“. Books On Books Collection.

Chaîné, Francine. 1997. “Collage, Assemblage, Bricolage Ou La Mise En Scène Dans l’Installation-Vidéo”. Theatre Research in Canada / Recherches théâtrales Au Canada 18 (1). .