“I AM SEEKING TO UNEARTH A SOLUTION BEYOND THE CONVENTIONAL SYSTEM OF LANGUAGE FOR MAKING CONNECTIONS.” Masoumeh Mohtadi
As would be expected, the binding of this Persian trade paperback is on the right, but its front cover and copyright page promise the unexpected. Excising lines of text from every page in the book, Mohtadi then physically reweaves Saramago’s gripping tale of a pandemic of sudden blindness into illegibility, varied patterns and heightened tactility.
The flimsiness of the pages slows their turning. As does their frequent catching at one another as they turn. In the slow turning, different woven patterns appear — some suddenly, some gradually. Some patterns bring to mind the streets and cityscape the novel’s characters can no longer see. Some, the hospital warrens the quarantined inhabit. Some, the tradition of carpet weaving.
The excised and woven pages inflate the book as if it had been read and re-read. Closed, it compresses in the hand, feels airy and weighty at the same time; opened, it pricks at the fingers, casts shadow and light and drags the eyes to surface and depth simultaneously.
Mohtadi’s cutting, weaving, pasting and patterning appropriates Saramago’s novel in a thoroughly integral way. And for a Western reader, the Persian translation and script introduce another layer between text and mind that challenges perception and enhances appreciation of this work of book art. She succeeds in connecting.
“A Reading Room with No Books: A Discussion on Artists’ Books”, Center for Book Arts, New York, NY. 28 January 2021. Accessed 1 February 2021. Mohtadi begins speaking about her works at the 13’49” mark in the video.
“Guy Laramée”, Books On Books Collection, 18 September 2019. For Laramée’s response to Saramago’s A Caverna.
“Francesca Capone”, Books On Books Collection, 5 November 2020. For Capone’s exploration of integrating weaving and language.