Do you remember when paper was the preferred means of communication? There once was a world where paper and ink expressed our feelings and secrets, a world when letters did not have to compete with Ipads, e-books or e-mails. If you want to revel in the magic of paper and the miracle of calligraphy, you should not miss, Volume, a large scale installation at New York’s Morgan Library and Museum by Monika Grzymala, a Polish artist living in Berlin, which will be on view until November 3, 2013.
This is the fourth entry in the Morgan Library’s Summer Sculpture Series. Thousands of sheets of handmade paper, grounded in the tradition of drawing, hang from the ceiling connected by bookbinding yarn. Some of them are inscribed with autographed manuscripts from the Museum collection in a variety of languages.
According to Grzymala, her work is a visual celebration of paper as a vehicle employed by artists, writers, and composers for creative expression. The title is a beautiful play on words: it not only refers to the large size of the work, but it also to the word lumen as a luminous flux of the light that changes the appearance of the work throughout the day. When viewers enter the Gilbert Court of the Morgan Library, Volume envelops them in a floating cloud of paper joined by imperceptible filaments.
The artist used 3000 irregular sheets of blank paper, plus 2000 more that reproduce manuscripts from the Morgan collection. The chosen texts include writings by Jane Austen, Galileo, George Gershwin, and Ludwig van Beethoven. She used mulberry fiber to produce the sheets used for the installation. “This plant can produce a kind of paper so white that it is considered the silk of papers”, said Grzymala, who has achieved, with this installation, a perfect balance of imagination and functionality.
Grzymala’s piece is a contemplative study that leaves behind an encouraging message. When asked about her source of inspiration, she says “it began with a drawing. Then I asked myself, what does it mean? When nothing is permanent, we can go back to the paper and pencil and become artists again.”
Without a doubt, this fragile work hints to eternity and reminds us that not much is needed to create a fable. A blank sheet of paper is always the beginning of a new story. ■