_a_a_o_ue is a new artist’s book by Keren Benbenisty. The book is the final phase in Benbenisty’s deconstruction of The Burghley House Collection, a catalogue
_a_a_o_ue consists of 100 unique drawings that were created by disassembling the publication and removing most of the printed content from the newly emancipated sheets. Unlike traditional drawings, Benbenisty marks by removing: Using carefully placed pieces of scotch tape she preserves sections of each page, erasing most of the text and much of the photographic surfaces, She transforms the mass produced imagery into a series of ‘pieces unique’ stripped of their bourgeois trimmings. By removing ink, she positions her project as a conceptual search for an origin. The residue, made up of the eraser and the ink it holds, are preserved and will be exhibited alongside the work.
Benbenisty’s drawing project goes beyond transforming mundane, everyday objects into historic artifacts. The new shapes and forms revealed both foreshadow and accelerate the porcelain’s decay. The finished works superimpose relics charged with cultural, social and political meaning over the original images, re-imagining the catalogue as a collection of archeological ruins. The resultant works exemplify Walter Benjamin’s notion of a dialectical image, charging the work with a political potential that Benjamin ascribed to images that contained within them a temporal fluxus. By including traces of the ‘whole’ object alongside its imagined decay, she exposes the various mythological claims that have long defined the ‘orient’, while simultaneously challenging these constructs through the elaboration of new negative spaces.
The map-territory relation describes the process whereby representations condition our perception of ‘the things themselves’ – similar to the way that cartography blurs the line between maps and the territories they represent. Through her exploration of ancient forms and contours she questions the contemporary language of Western societies, while simultaneously targeting and searching for her own ‘origin.’ Seen in the context of her larger oeuvre, the work can also be read as a poetic attempt at re-interpreting and re-imagining the ‘Levant’.
Each modified sheet, that was ripped apart in the works creation, will be rebound with the book’s publication. The original drawings remain as fragments – dispersed in time and space, whilst the book recreates what was destroyed, bringing the project conceptually to a full circle.