A paper labyrint

Een papieren labyrint

This is not really a book to look at in a photograph or in a display case. You must hold it in your hands. When you pick it up you notice immediately that there is something strange about it. We know from experience what the average weight of a book of such dimensions should be, and this book is much too light. This is because Margit Rijnaard (b. 1961), the artist from The Hague who made the book between 2000 and 2003, cut pieces of paper out of each page.

This is a wordless book. It does not contain any letters, any typography or even their suggestion. ‘This book was bought’, wrote the curator of the modern collection of the Museum Meermanno, ‘in order to highlight the boundary of the collection. This can only be done by overstepping it now and then.’

For a mere trifle Rijnaard bought a dummy as a remaindered book, in a black cardboard cover. With a pencil she drew on all pages patterns chiefly consisting of rectangles and squares. She then cut out these patterns, a job which – as it has been noted – took three years. Different patterns have been cut from every page. When you leaf through the book this produces a dizzying effect.

It seems as if you have landed in a paper labyrinth, in a matrix of geometrical planes and voids. Moreover, this remarkable artist’s book – one of many in the Meermanno collection – emits a sound when you leaf through it. In the words of the curator, ‘When turning the pages, a soft tapping sound is heard, like that of reed stems or wooden mess tins.’