In June, I saw the exhibition Paper Art in the CODA museum in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. A nice exhibition, but afterwards I regretted not buying the book Cosmic Surgery by Alma Haser from the museum gift shop. After a few days of regret, I looked up Haser’s website and bought the book directly from her. A few euros more expensive, but in exchange I got a postcard with a handwritten message from the artist with my book, so that evened it out.
And, of course, a gorgeous book, at which my inner bibliophile is hysterically giggling a little. It’s not just a collection of photos, but an artwork in itself. The text is not some preface about the artistic background or something, but a fictional advertising brochure for the so-called cosmic surgery, a kind of automatic cosmetic surgery that lets you adjust your looks with nothing but your mind. This text is printed on colored paper in a slightly smaller format than the rest of the book. The page-sized photos are partly in color, partly in black and white. On some pictures there is a kind of pop-up origami, which comes up when you open the page. It’s beautiful.
And not only the form of the book is beautiful, I’m also quite taken with the pictures. They are portraits, with the face covered by a kind of origami piece of the same picture. The folded polygon may for example only show one eye, repeated ten times. I’ve seen some of the pictures at the CODA in 3D, which is even better. But printed in Cosmic Surgery, they are still very good. They are portraits, but the portrayed are at the same time recognizable and unrecognizable. The fact that they are consistently referred to as patients makes it even weirder.
One of the best purchases of the year.