Jacob Z. Wan, “Secrettes”

Jacob Z. Wan
West Melbourne, Florida

Handmade paper of cigarettes, threads, letter stamp foil, cigarettes
8″ x 8″ x 8″ as a group

Artist Statement

Secrettes are cigarette box books, books of empty dreams. As book objects, the box is the cover and the butts are the pages. With the idea of collecting other people’s dead dreams, I created cigarette box books to express my thoughts when I smoke.

Secrettes is made up of handmade paper from cigarettes and stitched together with golden threads. Smoking is often associated with male figures, a common symbol for the masculinity in the media. Males are not allowed to express their fragility due to gender rules and social stereotypes. Be strong, be tough, and be powerful are characteristics that society expects men to embody. With the texts on the cigarette butts, I wanted to deliver the idea of the struggle and fear of being a failure, a desire of making right decisions because men are asked to be responsible and successful. I have realized that smoking is a moment of reviewing the contradiction between the ideal and reality, a personal space for meditation, and a conversation within the self. It is not the behavior of smoking; it is about the process of introspection. It is an initiative for finding isolation, and a seeking for a private moment.

As a contemporary bookbinder and Chinese gay man, I craft conceptual books to explore identity, sexuality, and human relationships. My handbound books, book-like objects, and book installations portray solitude, delineate intimacy, and evoke an immersive atmosphere. By experimenting with the materiality of the page, thread, and cover, I deploy personal memories to celebrate the importance of oneself.