Books for Burning

I tend to think of my work as fitting into one of three categories: Eye Candy, Mind Candy, or a mix of the two. Most of the work I’ve made in the past decade I think belong in the Eye Candy/mixed camp. This is largely driven by practical considerations, as beauty tends to be an easier sell. However, the Mind Candy side is where I think I make my most compelling, and thought provoking work.

This summer I started my first long term Mind Candy project in ten years. I am hand binding 451 little red books, and when I finish, I will have people fill them with secrets before we burn them.

Book burnings are almost never a good thing. But that doesn’t stop societies from having them time and time again anyway. By having the participants in my project act as both creators and destroyers, I want to see if we can flip the negative association with book burnings and make it a positive force.

I’ve chosen specifically to make 451 books in reference to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Which, if you didn’t have to read it in high school, is a dystopian novel about burning books (it’s also the burning point for paper). I’ve also chosen to make the books red, as an allusion to Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung aka Mao’s Little Red Book. This color choice is a personal touch to reflect my Taiwanese American background.

The purpose of this project is to create a collective feeling of catharsis, and will end with a public exhibition where people will have access to the books. At its core, this is a performative work incorporating themes such as: the production of knowledge, the right to privacy, and how power is exercised.

But I’ll need your help in order to get me there.

At the time of writing this, I’ve only made 10 books so far. At this rate it would take me 4 years to complete this project. Because right now, I support myself through a combination of assisting commercial photographers, selling prints, and taking on commissions. I am reaching out to you, dear reader, to help me fund this less visible, but no less valuable, side of my work. Because, with your support, I can say “no” to a few junk gigs here and there, the kind I often take just to feed myself. Or stop worrying if a collector will like my work enough to buy it, so I can pay off my credit cards. Instead, I will be able to spend more time making the mind candy work that I think needs to be made, guilt free. Your dollars will help me buy that creative freedom.

Even better, thanks to the fiscal sponsorship program at Fractured Atlas, all your donations are now tax deductible! For me it’ll just be normal income, but for you, it’s a tax write off.

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