Inspired by traditional Zhen Xian Bao structures, Japanese Shifu
22 x 12 x3 cm closed
EV of 3
hanji (Samsik Kim), organic dyes and inks, eco dyed silk, velvet, archival digital inks, magnets
Hinc Ad Horam, a book of metamorphoses, explores transformations and conversations that occur between humans and plants in the form of a Zhen Xian Bao structure. In Greek mythology and the book of Metamorphoses by Ovid, the world of humans and the world of plants have fluid borders. Women get transformed into trees, men into flowers, babies are born from a tree womb.
The book brings these two worlds together. It tells the fleeting beauty of life -the Latin lacrimae rerum or Japanese mono no aware- and the stories of people transforming into plants who themselves get transformed to recreate these stories.
While visiting Brittany where I spent every childhood summer, I met with two experts in plants and natural dyes. I created inks and dyes from local plants which I used to dye paper and fabric. The paper in this book was made in Korea by master Samsik Kim who dedicated his entire life to the art of hanji, the Korean paper made of native mulberry trees. I wrote stories of metamorphoses with yellow ink on very fine hanji, then made paper thread from it, using the Japanese method named shifu. This paper thread was then woven into small squares using a tiny loom and they are hidden in the flower top boxes on the left side. I transformed some dyed hanji into flower tessellations and put them into the square boxes on the left.
The Zhen Xian Bao -needle thread pockets- structure originated in China and women from the Dong, Miao and other minorities made them to store their embroidery threads and needles, and small paper items. This tradition was extensively researched by Ruth Smith and is taught in the US by a wonderful duo, Paula Beardell Krieg and Susan Share.
The circle of life/cycle of transformations continues with the pieces of eco-dyed silk that I made in Brittany using native plants. They are backed with hanji and form the larger box as well as the folded structure on the right side of the book.
While researching this book, I stumbled upon the poetry of Thanassis Hatzopoulos, a Greek contemporary poet and doctor. His poem Repetition is a Rule of Life resonated with the story I wanted to tell. I made a booklet with his poem and its French and English translations. It lives on the right side of the book, becomes an echo to the stories of Ovid, inspired the Latin title of the book, Hinc Ad Horam, from then to this hour, ancora, uncore, encore, and captures the cyclical repetitions that define a world in which plants and humans co-exist, and constantly merge and communicate.