The Many Paradoxes of Tom Phillips’s A Humument

Thursday, March 16


Center for Book & Print

Greene Block + Studios, 18 Main St, Waterville

Professor of Art Véronique Plesch to give a talk at the Greene Block + Studios on The Many Paradoxes of Tom Phillips’s A Humument.

For half a century, from 1966 to 2016, British artist Tom Phillips engaged with an obscure Victorian novel, A Human Document by W.H. Mallock. Phillips “treated” Mallock’s text (his term) by cancelling most of it by drawing, painting, and collaging while leaving a few words untouched in order to produce a counter-narrative. A Humument, the book thus created, is an enthralling object in which words and images converge to enter in a struggle of sorts, making us profoundly aware of the tensions that exist between the visual and the verbal. Central to Phillips’s modus operandi and to our perceptions of A Humument are the dichotomies of figure/ground, hiding/revealing, seeing/not seeing, selecting/obliterating, forgetting/remembering, affirming/negating. Reflecting upon A Humument in all its rich complexity makes us aware of the coexistence of paradoxical realities, many of which we experience in our daily lives but are not always fully aware of.

Brought to you by the Center for Book & Print, a collaboration between the Colby Libraries and the Arts Office.

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