11 August 2012

Garden of Forking Paths

The Southbank is sunny and busy and smells of hot dogs and donuts and sounds like applause and laughter at the moment. I was walking from the Millennium Bridge along to the Southbank Centre this week and was constantly distracted by street performers, ice-cream stands, music, silent movie-style outdoor theatre, and throngs of people (both tourists and locals). It was a colourful warm walk. When I reached my destination, an entirely different atmosphere settled around me. A quieter one. I had come to see if aMAZEme really is amazing.

From Juxtapoz Magazine
Inspired by Jorge Luis Borges, two Brazilian artists - Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo - have created a book maze. A labyrinth of 250 000 books. The books have all been provided by Oxfam and supportive donors who wanted to make 'getting lost in a good book' a reality. Any visitor can pick up a book and begin reading - as long as the book is returned to the maze before the visitor leaves. The piles grow as the maze spirals in to the centre, starting low then gradually becoming far taller than me so I could see so many book spines before my eyes. Such variety! Mills & Boon (Modern Heat) lies side by side Margaret Atwood. 'The Complete Kama Sutra' sits next to 'Insects in Britain'. There are picture books, annuals, cookery books, celebrity 'autobiographies', and many many novels all packed together to form walls of stories and histories. Ring-binded sheets of braille lie open on a low wall, looking like wide-winged embroidered birds flying atop book-scapes.

A little girl was settled down on the floor, bright cardboard pop-up pages spread all around her as people stepped over her small absorbed form. Words and quotes are projected in a blinding light onto the books, distorting them as they wash over the titles. They are also projected onto a crinkled curtain behind the maze - the quotes of Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Muhammad Ali, Jean Luc Godard, Shakespeare...(not a lot of women I note, but there are certainly many women writers represented in the maze walls). Along with words, there are moving images projected in colour: fields, trees, sky, a man wearing a sculpted head of a bull as we follow him through different outdoor environments. Surrounded by stories. I was heartened to see that the maze was drawing people in. Browsing readers were picking up books, flicking through pages, occasionally taking them to the sofas on the maze outskirts. Encouragement to build up my walls of books as I travel forward. It's perfectly lovely to get lost every so often.


Ma said...

Brilliantly simple but so clever

F said...

!! Amazing. Why was I not there?! xxxx