MOCA London is please to announce a series of new works by the sculptor Colin Booth, FRBS.
Booth presents a body of work based on the lost fragments of the poems of Sappho, like Japanese haiku poems carved into marble. Over 2500 years ago, so wide was her fame as a poet that perhaps only Homer was held in such esteem. It is said that all those seeking the height of culture made a pilgrimage to her, to hear her verses from her own voice, a voice now nearly lost, nearly silenced. Yet fragments remain, like If Not Winter or Everywhere Glory and Booth has had them carved into white marble.
These fragments are like teasers, that tear at our imagination, what came before, what came next, what followed Anxiety Ground? For anxiety is deep within this and every translation. What was the original, how much has it changed from the base? It is hard enough for translation to be done in modern languages, where there is a real possibility to talk to others who speak that language as natives, what they think of the new words, the new idea of the original. So what then can we say of a translation of a long dead version of the Greek language? It is not only that the words are different, the time is different, and we can never know what those words might have meant for those who heard them afresh.
Sappho was a woman who loved women, she gave her island a name for such love for the rest of time, for Lesbos and lesbians. Booth is neither a lesbian nor a same sex lover and some might ask if he is appropriating her, but this is to misunderstand the universality of poetry. It can speak to us all, we all can be the vessel of its voice.
Booth also presents two floor based black marble fragments: who is gone and surely a sign. The dark marble is in stark contrast to the white, it has a sheen, a mirror quality, that allows the carved words to float up into our mind, more so than by just reading them.
Booth has made a new work designed directly for the MOCA library. Go, litel bok, go comprises 75 books carved from cedar wood. They sit directly under the shelves that are full of words, yet they are forever silent. The paper (made from wood) printed with millions of words about art, about poetry, about history, that can be opened, can speak, and call out to their quieted cousins. This work comes full circle with Sappho in their mystery and in the last marble inscribed text presented by Booth: Become a voice.
What better call to art.
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