servane briand, “Threads of Life”



servane briand

Palo alto, California

Threads of Life
book arts
each box is 9″ x 4″ x 4″ closed and 9″ x 12″ x4″ open



Artist Statement


Threads of Life interweaves the stories of the three Fates, the origin of life, genetics and the development of human communication. It explores our endless search for meaning through arts and sciences and the stories we tell ourselves.

Text and textile share the same etymological root. A key process in the cell cycle, mitosis, derives its name from the Greek word mitos, thread. The book plays with the origin of words and how they echo each other when used in science or in the arts to convey various ways of analyzing the world. This is reinforced by the multiple ways one can enter the book and its different narratives: Vertical Drawers from bottom to top: threads of DNA [double spiral and square knots with DMC embroidery cotton on linen bookbinding cord] one single cell [silk ribbons, threads and hair, encased in hexagonal structure made of book boards and abaca paper handmade by the artist and covered with beeswax] one more complex combination of cells [tessellation of handmade abaca paper] evolution of threads to textile to text [woven hexagonal structures made of walnut dyed paper thread/ Japanese moro-jifu] sketch book that contains hand written text and drawings narrating some of the research that went into creating the three main stories story [each book in the upper drawer is a 23 panels hexagonal boustrophedon accordion structure; original drawings and digital printing on Hahnemühle Ingres, finished with beeswax; small magnets hidden in each book’s cover to easily retrieve the books from drawer] Three stories, one in each top drawer: First Box – Clotho, the one who spins the thread of life from the distaff to the spindle.

The story narrates the evolution of life on earth, from its earliest known origins near hydrothermal vents to the present. The narrative is created with quotes in four languages that each relates to the organism it represents. The back image is that of a tangled web as we now understand the evolution of life has not been linear. Second Box – Lachesis, the one who measures the thread of life. The story centers on Homo Sapiens, with the 23 chromosomes.

Following the same organization, the narrative is created by quotes that are connected to their respective chromosomes. The back image is a tree like structure reminiscent of dendrites and neuronal connections. Third Box – Atropos, the one who cuts the thread of life. Inspired by Samuel Morse who invented the telegraph after the death of his beloved wife, Lucretia, the book centers on the history of communications, the threads that connect us. The book spells the names of the three Fates in Morse code. The back image is an abstracted representation of a loom. All the stories reference historical and mythological women who were weavers and makers and sometimes change the course of history, like the great Lucretia whose death gave birth to the Roman Republic. Together the three Moirai -and their polymeric meristics- remind us of the great weavers and the threads we combine to create fanciful yarns.