Heidi Trautmann

142 - ALTERED BOOKS – Exhibition at The ArtSpace in Nicosia – Review


by Heidi Trautmann


A new experience! I held two books in my hands given to me by Ruth Keshishian of Moufflon Bookstore who initiated the project and I wondered what to do with them, how to transform them, to give them a new meaning, and of course appearance. So, I thought I'd participate myself to find out. How would I go about it?

First I started to read in them, I touched the cover, the quality of the pages, studied the title and production details. I put them aside and let my brain do the rest for imagination. What is a book, why do writers and poets undergo all the stress to tell us something. Are these people different from others? What makes them act?

A book is a world in itself, and although it has two covers, front and back, and the word end at its end, when it is still one of the older productions,  it contains lives or characters; ideas or research results, it is another separate cosmos altogether.

All of the nine artists participating underwent such thoughts. What is literature? For some a delicious meal, to savour the taste of the beautiful turn of a phrase, the melody of a poem, coming very close to painting. For others it is a distraction to plunge into another world, to get away from ones own misery. But literature and poetry live from people, from experiences made, others made, so it is a constant taking and giving.

And,  finally I got the idea in my early morning dreams, and so did another young artist I spoke to, which proves that all serious questions you have go on developing in your sub-consciousness.

It was most interesting to see what the other participants have come up with; in the entrance hall of Horst Weierstall’s art studio The ArtSpace was the video installation by Chrisanthy Christoforou “….” the artist’s life episode answering the theme of the book, an animated herself walking from page to page, telling her life story with respect to yesterday. I liked when at the end she refused to be left within the pages with the words, “Wait, I want to be free!”

The most elegant version, I found, was the Dinner for One: a book and a nut; similar basic idea but refined in another way was the table laid for two with a green soup with pieces of literature floating on top waiting to be savoured.


There were books where the artists took the project literally, in changing the individual pages, either by painting, drawing or making collages, or cutting pieces out in a block to insert a life by itself; antique lovely books, fairy tales, with the imprint of today’s life on top. There was Horst Weierstall’s creation, I would call it – without having seen his own interpretation – the blue dragon. Pages torn, dyed blue and put on a string. I will perhaps come to another conclusion when I have read his comment. The only comment I have available so far is my own. (See all comments at the end of the text).


Altered Books Project : Moufflon Bookstore – The ArtSpace

Books used : Works of Chaucer and a School Series Book: The Royal Readers

My title: Interactions

I used the Works of Chaucer as infrastructure and I copied some of the drawings/etchings from the second book to bring the two together to explain my idea of INTERACTIONS in a sort of fairytale way.


The idea is to show that there is a constant cultural exchange through literature, writers and poets, whatever the language. As long as we talk, as long as we communicate, there is development, evolution. No separatism. Language is the only valid tool. A constant giving and taking with a certain revolving automatism taking place.

On the front there are the interactions between the two books only – a poem by Turkish Cypriot poet Neriman Cahit glued onto a ribbon and wound around the project pointing to the backside of the book where I placed some Cypriot Turkish poets I know. Past and present, my surroundings, with a short poem by Goethe “The Frogs”  to remind us that poetry of yesterday or today is the spiritual backbone and property of us all.



One art piece in which the “book” was used as a means of decoration was a black model wearing a hat made out of pages torn from the book. Very clever, I am sure, a fashion student or already graduated.


For me it was a very satisfying experience. In fact, the whole thing has an educational value: Think about me, the book, what am I?


The exhibition is still open until May 2, Mon – Fri 18.00 – 20.00 hrs

and Sat: 11.00 – 13.00 hrs


PS: I shall add the artists' comments as soon as they come in!

Here are some:

New Title:  VENUS AND ARIADNE by Mary Plant

Venus and Ariadne are the names of the two barges operated by the Maidens of the original title.  The Ariadne barge is towed by the Venus barge, that has an engine.

Mary Plant was born in Famagusta, Cyprus and studied Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art, London, 1976-81, graduating with an MA.  She has exhibited in the U.K., Ireland, Cyprus, France, Germany, Russia, Mongolia and Hong Kong.  Reviews of her work appear in Art Monthly, Artists News Letter, Time Out, area revue Paris, Kultur Magazin Kassel, Phileleptheros, Politis, Cyprus Mail, Cyprus Weekly and other publications.  Her work is in many private and public collections including the A. G. Leventis Foundation, Bank of Cyprus (London), Cultural Services, Cyprus, Laiki Bank.  She has received the Morland Lewis Scholarship, a GLA grant and a Bank of Cyprus (London) prize.  Since 2007 she is in receipt of a yearly grant from the Ministry of Education, Cyprus.  She is the representative of the Cyprus branch of the Alumni Association of the University of the Arts, London.  She has travelled in Siberia as guest of the Artists Union of Krasnoyarsk and in Mongolia as guest of the Artists Union of Ulan Bator.


Dinner for Two (2010)
Aggela Chimona
''Poison Parsley'' is a novel of crime. Two people, a man and a woman meet in rural England . They're both followed by a rumor, the man of murdering his wife and the woman of murdering her husband. These are accusations that have never been proven. However another crime is committed, the man's second wife is found dead...
In this work the book stops being just another novel of crime but it becomes the tool of a crime as it stops being a book and becomes what it's title implies.
Being treated as poison parsley it has been cut and cooked into a soup in order to fulfill what as a novel only suggests and therefore end the rumors.


Artist: Chrisanthy Christoforou



Rockets and Satellites work like this. An illustrated introduction by  John W.R. Taylor with 54 illustrations by John W. Wood. London Roy Publishers. 1959

Elusive Harmony by Mary Burchell adapted by Rosemary Wagner, illustrated by Bill Prosser, oxford University Press 1978

Postcards from different countries.


Technique: Video Art Animation 2010


Interpretation text:

The artist created a narrative out of two books, which have no link between them. The narrative is about a girl and her grandpa who tells a story about his trips with rockets and satellites.

This work of art explores the relationship we have with each other. Each part of us and of our lives is a part of someone else’s life. We need the others to form our self, either by a direct or mediated experience. The predefined path created by our society –e.g. ideal man, marriage, children -and believed that each one has to follow, is being questioned.  Each person tries to get rid of his taboos and live his life the way he/she wants.

Sossee Eskidjian-Nikolaides





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