A reduction of content through cut and collage
allowing for meaning to expand…

“My father was a book designer during the 1980s and he had a book of foreign book designs that he used like a catalog or kind of reference text,” described Lei Lei, Beijing-based animation artist. The book, a showcase of what was considered to be some of the most outstanding foreign cover designs at the time, aimed to introduce Western design philosophy to Chinese designers. “In 2013, when I was traveling in Berlin, I purchased a bunch of secondhand books at a flea market that were really beautiful and well designed. I then took out my father’s book and began to cut and collage the printed book covers from inside the text onto the real covers of the books from Berlin. It was as if I was ‘returning’ these foreign book covers back to their ‘rightful’ owners.”

“In the process of making the collages, my father’s collection of foreign book designs began to slowly deteriorate and, in the end, what remained were just the titles, pinup girls, cartoons and landscape photos,” furthered Lei Lei. “It was through the absurdity of this process that I began to gradually discover the significance of my father’s book as a cultural symbol. During the 1980s, the Western avant-garde designs infiltrated China as a way to ‘teach China how to design,’ but actually, what was also very important was to teach the Chinese how to be commercial – how to enjoy the commercial life.”

Lei Lei’s ‘Books on Books’ collection includes 100+ collaged books as well as video loops created from their scanned images. “I think of it as my library from which I can do something very interesting. I believe putting these collages onto these used books reflects their rightful place in history; it is as if they have finally found home.”

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