“When the maze is deconstructed at the end of the exhibition, all of the books will be donated to Oxfam to raise funds for their work fighting poverty around the world.” —Oxfam Great Britain
The immersive environment formed by 250,000 books intends to spark curiosity and stimulate the mind of the viewer. Each individual can play a central role in the experience, as the three words combined in the title suggests. A standalone website for the aMAZEme 2012 project provides definitions for “amaze,” “maze,” and “me.”
“By participating in the installation, the audience discovers new textures, images and emotions. They become surrounded- hypnotized – by words and thoughts, designs and patterns. There appear to be secrets hidden in the installation’s walls; walls of up to 2.5 meters high, built from thousands of books, forming a large Maze of more than 500 square meters...The public will be able to navigate through this hypnotic and surprising “book labyrinth” or attend daily performances from literary figures.” — aMAZEme | London 2012 Festival
aMAZEme is partly inspired by renowned writer and educator Jorge Luis Borges. The organic shape made by the curved walls of books is not random, but based on Borges’ fingerprints.
The sculptural representation of Jorge Luis Borges’ fingerprint is difficult to see without a bird’s eye view. An audio tour for navigating the exhibit may shed further light on the influence of Borges and provide details about where and why specific book titles are arranged within the maze.
The combination of foot traffic, workshops, and performances in the space, should cause the installation to become less tidy with each day.
How does the shape and height of the walls hold up through the duration of the event? Are some viewers tempted to swap books out of the original order? Are little kids more prone to being scared (not realizing that the maze is very simple to navigate) or do some feel inclined to poke the books like in a game ‘Jenga?’
Varying viewpoints, whether based on the size of a person, or if they are standing or sitting in the room, is part of what makes this installation unique. Every visitor has a different perspective which gradually changes as one makes their way to the end of the path. The aMAZEme installation reminded me of Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipses sculptures at the Dia:Beacon. I wondered if the experience of walking through aMAZEme could be as disorienting. Then I remembered that light doesn’t pass through the higher walls of Richard Serra’s circular sculptures. The ways in which Serra’s work is different vastly exceeds the similarities.
In a podcast from Southbank Centre, co-creator Gualter Pupo offers more insight about the aMAZEme project in his own words.
(All images shown via aMAZEme 2012 project site and facebook page, top 3 photographs credited to Peter Macdiarmid/Getty, 4th photo down credited to Dominic Lipinski/AP)