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Nigel Poor
at Haines Gallery, San Francisco, California
Recommendation by Cherie Louise Turner


Nigel Poor, ''The Diary of Anne Frank (a)'' from the series ''Remainders: god, sex and animals talking,'' 2010, inkjet print, 20 x 16''.

Continuing through April 7, 2012

 

The banned book is the subject of Nigel Poor’s current exhibition. Right in the show’s title are the reasons why these books were targeted: "Remainders: god, sex, and animals talking." One further constraint Poor placed on her subjects is that the title had to include a woman’s name or obviously reference a woman. Some surprising titles include: "Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret;" "Charlotte’s Web;" and "Harriet the Spy."

 

For this project, which Poor started in 2008, the books are washed and dried, to “clean” them. The use of water could also be seen as referencing, by being the equal opposite, the process by which censored books have often been destroyed: fire. Either way, the end product is unreadable.

 

The remains of Poor’s laundered text are presented in two ways: as black-and-white photographs — the crumpled and mutated white pages set against a flat black back — or, in some instances, pushed even further by being infused with wax, as sculpture. While the books can now no longer serve their primary purpose, as a storytelling vehicle, fragments of sentences or illustrations are still visible, a reminder of what was. 

 

These works also speak to the physicality of the “traditional” book, the existence of which is slowly being threatened by its electronic replacement. Poor provides them a new role, as artistic artifact, their original purpose a thing of the past. This can also be read as symbolic commentary on censorship — that its destructive ways are best put behind us.

Haines Gallery

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