Roger Boulay, “All That Glitters”

All That Glitters (8’ 2” x 38’ x 1/2”), paperback book covers, oil-based gold paint, pva


Installation image




Roger Boulay (Winona, MN)
All That Glitters
Pastiche, collage, gold-leafing
Unique work
8 ft 2 in x 38 ft x 1/2 in

Much of my work is about erasure and change expressed through different objects and media. For this piece, I collected over 1,000 used paperback book covers that contain a gold element, often embossed gold text. I meticulously painted around the original gold portions using gold paint. I am interested in what happens when I erase the color gold with itself. This process results in clashes of different shades of gold or reveals other colors (yellows, bronzes and oranges) either described as gold or confused with gold, perhaps as a kind of “fool’s” gold. This clash of color speaks to discrepancies in how we assign value. The economic value of cultural production such as fiction has become increasingly unclear as print media begins to disappear.

A lot of information is erased from each book cover. However, In many cases I left visual elements or particular signifiers visible. These become traces of the original narrative within each book or the journey of the object itself. Price tags indicate reduced, second-hand sales and library barcodes hint at rejection from community archives. Homes, hair, police badges, shadowy figures and a wide range of other objects and symbols are left as flotsam and jetsam floating through a sea of gold.

By combining gold and cheaply mass-produced goods, the work describes the ephemeral, unstable space of popular culture. Pop and pulp narratives contain fleeting, momentary value and are quickly discarded. Stories are hyped, consumed and thrown away. I want the viewer to feel immersed in the piece. Seen as a whole, the stacked book covers evoke the bricks of a tenuous, crumbling wall. It is a partial periodic table of storytelling. It is only a fragment of something larger -– beautiful and shimmering yet fatally flawed.