THILO FOLKERTS AND RODNEY LATOURELLE, JARDIN DE LA CONNAISSANCE
An important Italian newspaper published recently a series of interventions of intellectuals, writers, editors and experts from different backgrounds questioning the future of the book. Some consider its likely migration towards the immaterial, driven by new media and different reading behaviors of digital natives, while others are confident in the strength of an object selected in half a millennium of successful evolution. However, if the convenience of e-books will achieve a prominent position it will be done overcoming the affective component so deeply embedded in printed paper, symbol and repository of knowledge as well as object of fetish desires (see for instance bookshelfporn.com). The evocative power of the book and its uncertain fate find an extreme synthesis in this installation, a work of Thilo Folkerts, German landscape architect, and Rodney LaTourelle, a Canadian artist currently based in Berlin, built in 2010 for the International Gardens Festival of Métis, Canada, and about to be re-submitted for this year's edition.
The simple idea of turning the books into a building material, thinking them as "bricks" with which making pavements, benches, low walls and higher partitions, produces a series of interesting tensions between artifice and nature, durability and impermanence, biblical references and provocative irony... Some colored wooden boards are placed inside the stacks of books, to stiffen the structure but also to serve as “time bookmarks” emerging day after day from the graying paper. To accelerate the process of decay of the volumes, designers have included various species of edible mushrooms that contrast, conceptually and morphologically, with the Neo-Plastic orthogonality through which the project is laid out, as if only a strict architectural composition could give meaning to their decomposition. Looking at all these books, stacked outdoors and even sunken into the ground, an avid reader, collector and author of books like me feels mixed sensations. The embarrassment caused by this direct representation of the waste of paper, to which we contribute with enthusiasm, soon gives way to a sort of consolation: though too often pointless, printed words can at least be used to create a beautiful garden.
Jardin de la Connaissance, Métis (CA), 2010-12, Festival International des Jardins de Métis, Quebec, Canada | 100Landschaftsarchitektur_Thilo Folkerts, Berlin + Rodney LaTourelle, Berlin; collaborators: Laura Strandt, Maike Jungvogel (100land); realization on site: Johanna Ballhaus, Elisabeth and Jessica Charbonneau, Sandrine Perrault | surface ca. 250 sqm. | 40.000 books = 30-40 tons | 20.000 CAD.