Maro Vandorou, “a book of whispers”

Maro Vandorou
Dublin, California

a book of whispers
watermarked text on bleached flax paper, letterpress printing from polymer plates, handmade flax papers for folios and covers, limp binding in vellum and custom flax paper
Dimensions of closed books: 17.5″ x 6.5″ x .4″ [44.5 cm x 16.5 cm x 1 cm]

Artist Statement

I am parched with thirst and I perish. But give me to drink . from the everflowing spring on the right, by the cypress.” Who are you? Where are you from?” . I am the daughter of Earth and starry Heaven.

“a book of whispers” is an artist’s book in two volumes. The first volume references sacred texts from six gold lamellae belonging to women initiates to Orphism, which give specific instructions for the soul to follow on its perilous journey to the Afterlife. The sacred writings of the gold lamellae have a metaphysical character. Perceived as “whispers,” fleeting hovering on the cusp of perception, of consciousness. these texts are given visual form as watermarks within flax folios. A watermark allows the sacred text to remain hidden, in a latent state within the fibers of the paper; it comes to life for a moment, as the reader lifts the folio and light illuminates it. In a companion book, an essay gives the personal narrative and the historical context for these mysterious objects. To make the voices of these women “heard,” the sacred texts are letterpress printed in pale ink as flowing ribbons in modern English and Greek.

The design of a book of whispers is characterized by a close congruence among concepts, content and materials. Voices that are fleeting, barely there underlie the key design principles of minimalism, white space and translucency of materials. Flawless, manuscript-quality calf vellum was thinned at my request to 1/10 mm for the cover of the first volume. Limp vellum binding of flax folios reference linen, the material used in ancient Greece. And the difficult, demanding technique of watermarks was chosen for the bespoke folios with 26 individual watermarks on an antique mahogany mould. Both books are housed in a custom enclosure made of 3/8th thick Plexiglas sandblasted on the outside. In contrast to the fragile books, the enclosure is rigid and solid, linked to a sarcophagus of frosted glass that once closed hints to the content it protects.

Return to all semi-finalists