Thursday, January 5, 2012

Guy Laramée: Progress at all Costs!

"Only those who know and respect stasis in progress, who have once and more than once given up, who have sat on an empty snail shell and experienced the dark side of utopia, can evaluate progress." Gunter Grass, From the Diary of a Snail.

Laramée's Great Wall project made me smile. Besides creating stunningly beautiful works of Art, I love the way he plays with possible 'future histories' as a way of pointing out the endlessly mutable march of change (I hesitate to say 'progress'). The notion that History has an endpoint, a pinnacle that stops with us here and now, is a teenage fiction that exposes our cultural myopia and human ego. His work reminds me of the scene in Planet of the Apes where we see Liberty's torch sticking out of the sand. There's a melancholy inevitability to his crumbled civilizations, to knowledge cast aside or squandered.

Closet used-book sniffers and hopeless Romantics should check out his gorgeous website for a step back - or forward - in time.

 “I think the true cause of distress over commercialization and so-called development lies in the sense of losing the ancient. Loss of the ancient means loss of the realization of the timeless in the present. It is with the old that we touch the timeless, the dimension that is neither old nor new.” Robert Aitken

 "When I was younger, I was very upset with the ideologies of progress. I wanted to destroy them by showing that we are still primitives. I had the profound intuition that as a species, we had not evolved that much.

"So I carve landscapes out of books and I paint Romantic landscapes. Mountains of disused knowledge return to what they really are: mountains. They erode a bit more and they become hills. Then they flatten and become fields where apparently nothing is happening. Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that which does not need to say anything, that which simply IS." Guy Laramée

Did I mention that he's an awesome painter too?

"Human beings will be happier when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That’s my utopia." Kurt Vonnegut, Playboy interview, 1973


  1. I can't take my eyes off of the carved books ....I have never seen anything like that. Great post,

  2. A great posting, Alan — I would love to watch Guy sculpting the books. He's figured out a special technique and he sure has mastered it!

  3. Being a bibliophile, this was pretty hard to watch! I am mesmerized though and hope he used mediocre fiction books for this.

  4. Interesting stuff to read. Keep it up.
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