Free Books

Marco Silveira Mello

Arranged over the entire length of this immense table, Guita Soifer’s works mark the presence of two qualities: quantity and diversity. One tells us that the many are one, while the other states that this one is many. Each one of the objects displayed here claims the nature of a book, but books filled with distinct natures.

What is a book? Said ordinarily, so related to our days, a book is a powerful instrument of culture, composed of a cluster of sheets of paper tied together, on which are printed signs capable of connecting different imaginary realities, and which, almost invariably, closed takes the form of a vertical rectangle and when opened the rectangle is spiked horizontally. However, the nature of a book also evokes references far from triviality. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the universe itself is figuratively a Book made of numbers and letters. The oldest of the preserved Hebrew texts, Sefer Yezirah, states that God created the world through secret combinations of ten Sepphorus (or numbers) and twenty-two letters; from Sepphorus all things abstract and letters were generated: the world, time and the human body. The secret of knowledge of the world is directly related to the correct reading of these characters and the mastery of their combinations. Through this mastery, the action of the Creator can be imitated to recreate different parts of this infinite text written by God.

Every book keeps in its form something analogous to this colossal primordial Book. It is in them that we incessantly strive, in imaginative dimension, to give life to realities. Everything that can be arranged in number, letter or image is capable of appearing there, of being reproduced, of being recreated. Through correct combinations of characters and their proper reading, the distance is made near. Other people’s dreams, experiences, and faraway stories, diverse knowledge are in front of us, inviting us to a close relationship. What a book has of analogous with the form of the universe is its surface nature. The world is an extensive surface that disposes of all that exists. The book is a surface capable of embracing the sign realities. Painting, sculpture and drawing, each in its way, claim this same configuration.

But what is the surface? According to physics, a surface is a platform that extends between distinct realities, and prepares them on an equal plane, in such a way as to make possible a relationship between them. Through this interaction, new events are generated, new facts are established, new realities may be born. The realities are born from the infinite surfaces that are incessantly generated within this extensive primordial surface: the world.

A book is a surface for language and also a reality. What distinguishes one nature from the other is the presence of formal resourcefulness. Reality has form. It is made from a system of edges, or demarcations, armed through the recognition of everything that belongs to a specific phenomenon and also of what does not belong to it: a border built from presence and lack. On the other hand, a surface presents itself as the free play of possibilities between qualities of approximate realities. When these qualities are grouped and sedimented in such a way that I perceive a configuration of my own, I take them as a fact.

Seen as a fact, the book has a story. A story that articulates the various operations of mathematics: it adds new possibilities, multiplies its scope, but also subtracts elements and divides itself into new fields. Glued to the surface of the world, the variations are processed: the book abandons the form of a parchment and develops its continuity from segmentation: pages, chapters and sections; it renounces the attachment to the necessary orality (reading and voice were intrinsically associated); it gains punctuation systems; it moves away from manual reproduction, which gains technical outlines; it resigns itself to the contraction of its reading system (Dante stated that a book focuses on four reading systems, being one literal and three symbolic) and exempts the interference of the arrangement of the letter on the page or its design in the configuration of the meaning used. In sudden, the history of the book is the variation of these so many aspects and of a sedimentation wont to provide a common idea. An idea that is learned by us and allows us to be certain: this is a book. Moreover, this is a book that belongs to the past; this one, a book of history; this other, of fiction, etc. We also learned that each one of these, each one of the species, demands from us a specific form of behavior. This is the dimension of culture.

However, art imposes itself differently from the universe of culture. Culture promotes the rule and the exercise of the apprehension of the rule. Art aspires to a surface directly related to creation. It is not a matter of remaking forms or redisposing them, or even teaching the characters through which the territory of forms can be better apprehended, but of giving form to what is still shapeless, of figuring what lies in the world only as a possibility. What art seeks is to promote surfaces, to forge characters and combine them so that new realities can be born within this realm.

Guita Soifer seeks art: she is an engraver, designer and painter. Here she shows her books. Books that are not satisfied with a form already sedimented. They want more. They seek to extrapolate the limits that culture has designated to their territories. On this immense table, a new surface is set: Guita’s artifacts are born from relationships that occur between the book form and other contexts where the language is also sheltered. They are books and also painting, and sculpture and drawing and engraving. The surface is carved. On display, each of the copies claims to be taken as reality. This now depends on them and our willingness to listen to them, one by one.