Hollowed Out Letters

Doug Beube, Reunification: The Grand Design, 1996 (altered book, 9 x 11 x 4 in.)

Using the original title, ‘The Grand Design,’ by Franz Josef Strauss, portions of the book’s printed matter are excised by drilling out all the words one at a time, a process that displaces the text’s narrative content of unifying both Germany and Europe. Overlapping pages of hollowed out letters with frayed edges remain as ghostly shadows of the text’s former shape. Since the obliterated words can no longer be read, the book becomes a memory of a memory. What we see in place of the original text is a mysterious, fragmented calligraphy of broken words. Each page is a palindrome and palimpsest, a white veil through which the underlying page is glimpsed. When a page is turned the veil remains. A visual — rather than a linear — read is necessary to understand the meta-language created by this altered syntax of disparate letters and empty spaces.

Just as the black ink has been erased and ripped away from the white paper of pages of the book, leaving a veil of frayed edges, when a nation is ethnically cleansed in order to create one homogeneous society, devoid of specific racial groups, the fabric of a nation is forever torn and lost, but never forgotten (via).

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