Good Book Titles

I don’t know if it’s the pandemic or the demonstrations, but a week or two ago I found myself thinking that How To Go From Bad To Worse  might be a new addition to my Good Book Title series. 

This long term artwork consists of making sculpture out of re-titled books. To do this, I scrape the titles off of the spines of abandoned or discarded books and write in titles that I’ve made up myself, usually using some sort of old or poor quality ball point pen. The Smart One Died, a Mother’s Tale and also Winning Through Understatement are examples of re-written titles. In these cases, I’m probably considering the misanthrope or crazy person who wrote these possible tomes. I also love coming up with book names in the space of Natural History. In this vein, I’ve generated speculative overviews like Hills, Nature’s own Assertions and also titles for very specific kinds of considerations such as Early Signs of Absenteeism in the Slow Dog Fish.

Once I change the name of a book, I then create sculpture with it. I pile my re-named tomes in tall stacks, so that my viewers have to walk around these vertical libraries while attempting to read my poorly rendered handwriting. 

_BookSideDet copy 2

Good Book Titles from The Natural History Collection, Elizabeth Demaray, 2014

In truth, these titles used to come to me daily. I would keep a list in my sketch book and every couple of months I would identify the best of the batch, commit them to book spines, and then turn and continue my more “serious ” works. Faced with less and less work time, I’ve made almost no “new” books in the last three years or so.

Which is why, How To Go From Bad To Worse, was such a welcomed thought. Maybe this simple action is what I require right now to emotionally navigate this moment of crisis. So what’s next, 101 Uses for Bleach or Picnics During the Pandemic? Or perhapse some kindness is in order and what I really need is An Aid to Understanding the Present. Or better yet, is it possible that I simply need to be lost in The Wild Profusion of Existing Things? Or maybe Anomaly or New Beginning, How To Tell The Difference? I don’t know and I can’t decide. But I do know that I’m grateful to be back among my books.




About demaray

I kinit sweaters for plants, I culture lichen on the sides of skyscrapers in New York City and I manufacture alternative forms of housing for hermit crabs, out of plastic. With the engineer Dr. Qingze Zou, I am currently creating the IndaPlant Project: An Act of Trans-Species Giving in which I am building light-sencing robotic supports for housplants. These moving floraborgs allow potted-plants to roam freely in a domestic environment, in search of sunlight and water.

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