Don’t be nervous is a book excavation created by carving into a book called “The Great Patent Medicine Era.” During this era Victorians could access a wide range of medicines and tonics which often included ingredients like cocaine and opium. There was little regulation over drugs and anything could be sold over the counter. The illustrations for advertisements and labels for these products make up the images within this work.
The text made of random phrases strung together says: “DON’T BE NERVOUS” to prevent a relapse. Do not perhaps happen to take a drink of unfavorable ones being made, recognized in the Old Testament with soap, warm water, and sugar and will poison a child who is tempted it ought to surprise no one when the midi cal profession with a standing promise, in one who knows still more. Had failed and the most celebrated skill entirely baffled.
Must see TV! Oregon Art Beat, a weekly arts program on Oregon Public Broadcasting, has a fascinating segment about James Allen and his book excavations. Great video showing the process behind his art, in an in-depth, accessible manner. Watch it here.
ABOUT BOOK EXCAVATIONS
A book excavation is a sculptural work of art made by transforming various types of old books using precise cuts with a scalpel or knife, carving pages one by one until an astonishing new composition reveals itself. This almost surgical focus of dissecting books results in a wholly new object infused with a graphical history that evolves as the artist exposes each layer of the book while cutting around interesting images or text. For most artists working in this remarkable medium, the process is performed without pre-planning or mapping out the contents before cutting into the books pages and/or covers. Finished book excavations often appear as cross sections of the book, carved to create an alternate universe previously hidden between the covers.
|Title||Don't be Nervous|
|Place of Publication||Portland, OR|
|Book Structure/ Binding Method||Book excavation|
|Dimensions (WxH) or (WxHxD)||9.5 x 11.75 x 1 inches|
|Signed and Numbered?||Signed by the artist|