“Reading a book is both a physical and a mental activity. It is like walking through a house, following the layout of the rooms with your body and mind: the movement from one room to another, or from one part of the book to another, constitutes an experiential narrative that is physical and conscious at the same time.” So begins Olafur Eliasson’s commentary in the prospectus for his 2006 book Your House, recently acquired for the graphic arts collection. This extraordinary artist’s book was published for the Library Council of the Museum of Modern Art in an edition of 225 and sold out within a week of its release.
The subject of the book is Eliasson’s home in Hellerup, Denmark. Each page of the book has been laser-cut to reproduce a vertical cross-section of actual physical space of the house on a scale of 85:1 (so that each leaf corresponds to 2.2 centimeters of the actual house). The interior of the volume forms a sort of reverse to the traditional three-dimensional architectural model—a non-dimensional model formed of negative space—as well as an inverse to the traditional pop-up book.
The physical volume is an oversize cube of perfect white paper. Outside of its colophon, the book’s 454 handbound leaves (908 pages) hold no words or printing, no color or inserted material; in fact, no images or marks of any kind. Only a complex series of holes cut into the paper, through which the reader looks. Unlike the tunnel books of the nineteenth century, there is no central image at the back that is the single focus of the book. With Eliasson’s volume every opening holds a unique view ahead into the coming pages and behind through the previous ones.
While Your House was conceived by Eliasson, it was designed and realized at groenland.berlin by Michael Heimann and Claudia Baulesch. KREMO of Mosbach, Germany, produced the book’s 452 laser-cut leaves and the computer-aided modeling was created by Georg Sagurna. Markus Rottmann bound the book for Heiner Hauck Portfolios, Berlin. The project was managed by Caroline Eggel at Studio Olafur Eliasson and organized by May Castleberry, Editor, Contemporary Editions, Museum of Modern Art. It should also be acknowledged that the architect of the house in question was Andreas Clemmensen.
Eliasson’s work will be the focus of a major retrospective Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson, opening at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art this fall and moving to New York City in 2008.