Two-channel HD video installation
7 minutes, dimensions variable
Between June 2011 and July 2012 I tried to gain access to a copy of the Gutenberg Bible hoping to photograph the shadows it cast. The representatives of institutions who responded to my emails and proposals were very courteous. However, it was made evident how extremely difficult it is for an individual to gain physical access to the book, other than to just behold through glass. After much interesting dialogue with departments of various institutions, I received one call “off-the-record” from someone who discreetly explained some internal politics of their particular institution. This revealed that one department had already made the decision to deny access despite approval being forthcoming from another department of the same institution. Through this series of failures to engage with the source material, the work seemed to be taking shape. After a year of attempting to gain access, I was discussing both the shortcomings and success of the work with Martin Antonetti at the Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College. He mentioned there was an original, individual leaf from a copy of the Gutenberg Bible in the library collection. It had been acquired from a dealer who had located a broken copy of the book approximately a century earlier and sold off a number of leaves. Martin asked if this might be useful for the project and granted unprecedented access thereafter.