Yolunda Hickman, Acre, (2011), 64 books

Acre. Each book holds 253 A3 pages which, if laid out side by side instead of being stacked and bound, would equal the equivalent of 1/64th of an acre in surface area. The whole work is 64 books (16 192 A3 pages) divided and bound in equal fractions of the whole.  Each book is numbered on the spine, 1 through 64, and weighs 4.5 kg, totaling 288 kilograms for the pile. The scale of 1:64 is a common scale ration for die-cast models, and allows the books to be divided fractionally into halves, quarters, eighths, and so on. As the work was installed, it is close to A1 (four A3) in size which is a metric measurement compared to the imperial acre.Each book is its own space, but also part of the whole.

Acre, is a way to break down the world into more containable, manageable, understandable pieces so that it becomes a relatable physical, visual representation. Acres as a unit of measurement are only used for land and is becoming obsolete but still relatively widely understood. I wanted to see a whole acre in a single glance, without turning my head or missing a piece. An acre of land becomes folded down into a paper form, similar to the way a large road map is folded. The representation of landscape collapses into a hand held object.

I kind of joked that I can’t afford my own acre of land, so instead I’ll just make my own acre of paper. I’ll just live in books instead.


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  1. #1 by Gabrielle Amodeo on January 20, 2012 - 3:37 pm

    Gosh! I like this work rather a lot. Thanks so much for this post.

    There’s a Felix Gonzalez-Torres quote that this work calls to mind for me: “Freud said that we rehearse our fears in order to lessen them … [so] this refusal to make a monolithic sculpture, in favour of a disappearing, changing, unstable and fragile form was an attempt on my part to rehearse my fears of having Ross disappear day by day right in front of my eyes”.

    Your work has an incredible monumentality, but at the same time for me doesn’t play entirely into that ‘heroic’ sculptural form. I think it’s because it’s not entirely about the form that the books as a whole takes (although that’s one part of it). It’s more importantly about the space of each of those fragile, delicate, easy-to-rip sheets of paper and the individual page’s reference to the small part of the acre that it occupies that the work as a whole resists being only the monolithic. I have nothing against the heroic in art generally, I just really love the push and pull you’ve created by ‘grandeur and strength’ being made from the ‘slight and flimsy’.

    The spatial and temporal aspects of a book (the area that they internalise and the time it takes to look at each of those spaces) is something that’s been of great interest to me, particularly when I was doing the Audrey Eagle work.

    I hope that makes sense? My brain feels like it’s taking weeks and weeks to limber up and start thinking properly again!

  2. #2 by Gabrielle Amodeo on January 20, 2012 - 3:39 pm

    Oh, it also puts into a very interesting context the pages you had in the catalogue for this exhibition: was it the last 100 books that you read? Particularly at the end of your post when you said, “I’ll just live in books instead.” Should they be read in relation to each other like this?

  3. #3 by achronologicalmanor on January 22, 2012 - 9:23 am

    Posted as requested…Thanks Gabrielle! I really enjoyed your response, and I think those ideas are definitely kept in mind as I make; small gestures that mean larger things, or quieter expressions rather than loud statements.

    In relation to the Gonzalez-Torres quote, I was interested in viewers interaction with the books. In the ‘art-as-precious-object’ way, many viewers covertly tried to open the books, or wouldn’t touch them at all. But they are very tactile objects, and books are meant to be opened and held. I am happy for the books to be handled. I like the way that when a book is borrowed from a library and you are not the first to have read it, a page may be dog-eared and I wonder why the person before did so. Was it a book mark place-holder, or a signpost of an interesting idea? Or there could be a small coffee stain at the bottom of the page 76 as someone clumsily tried to juggle book and cup. The handling of a book carries a record of those who read it.

    And again in your Audrey Eagle work, I really enjoyed the spatial shift of the book as medium: displacement of the positive removed and the resulting shadow of the negative missing. One of the most interesting parts of that work for me was the back page of the positive cutout, where text or other images had missing gaps because of the part join from the other side of the leave. When the images are pinned to the wall, I want to know what is on the side of the page facing the wall; the information held together simply by the context of the shape displaced. How the complete part missing scatters the communicative intent of the information.

    The text work in the catalogue was the last 100 books I had completed reading in date order. There’s a few I started but didn’t finish, but quite a few non-fictions I would read a single chapters of, or short story anthologies where I picked and chose. Books bring out my geeky side. From all of those 100 books (plus the non-completed ones which didn’t make the list), I have taken quotes, ideas, phrases, titles, names, facts and compiled my own notes on every book. They have all been typed up and catalogued with a lot of entries cross referenced. Some entires are a few thousand words, others barely a hundred. It was interesting for me to list all the titles in that format, to see where my interests changed along the way, and how quickly I read trashy novels over summer, and then often struggled through weightier classics in winter.

    Sorry for the lengthy reply, you raised so many interesting ideas I had to respond to!


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