[The Squid Book]
Durs Grünbein (poems by)
Yuji Nawata (translated by)
Artist’s publication; Tokyo, Japan
Inscription: Signed by all participants
In this award-winning book 26°57,3’N, 142°16,8’E (2007) Schäpers (in Booklyn 2007) explains the content as follows:
At this location in the northwestern pacific [sic] the Japanese marine biologist Tsunemi Kubodera took the first pictures of a living giant squid in its natural environment. … Inspired by a note in the Newspaper about this discovery, Durs Grünbein wrote a poem entitled Architeuthis. Fascinated by his seven-verse text … this project about deep-sea fish emerged. We chose two further poems to be printed: one – which was already published – about the bizarre shapes and behaviors of these creatures living in such deepness entitled Sous les Mers, recalling Jules Verne’s Capitain [sic] Nemo; and a third about the legendary fish Remora which Grünbein wrote specially for this book.
When we met, Kubodera also showed me pictures and short films of squids he recorded at depths between 600 and 1 000 meters. The unpractised spectator sees only dim silhouettes of the squids in these images, but at the same time begins to sense the diversity of life in such darkness. This gave me the idea to work with the interaction of transparent and opaque pages.
Judith Klau (n.d.) likens negotiating the reading of 26°57,3’N, 142°16,8’E to undertaking an uncertain journey:
Folding back the parchment, what looked like a horizon is now revealed as a page divided in three. Layers of tissue-like paper have been engineered to create pages that move from transparency to opacity. The bottoms of the pages have a deep inky blackness. The tops of the pages begin to tell a story in silhouette – a shoreline? Nautical map? The colors are aqueous, greens and greys, there are images suggesting soundings, depth indicators, and at last some language – I can tell by the way the language is presented in lines that I’m looking at [a] poem, in German, which I do not read, and in Japanese, ditto. But at last a clue in French, a language I know: Sous Les Mers, Under the Seas. I was traveling blind, but the artist led me in the right direction, down, down, into the sea.