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A Rock is a River by Maya Rochat


SPBH is pleased to present A Rock is a River, a new book by Swiss artist Maya Rochat. Binding the alchemy of photography with the physicality of painting, Rochat creates organic patterns, chromatic alterations and visual ruptures that generate a slow, ongoing process of images mutating, reflecting a world in permanent flux. In the long tradition of artists’ books as artworks in their own right, Rochat understands the space of a publication as site-specific, and has conceived a series of works for the form of the publication, taking into account the possibilities of layout and printing experimentation. Drawing from the past two years of her photographic production, she revisits and interweaves images in various scales and rhythms to create an ongoing, unfolding collage in book form. 


Continuing to knead out her frustrations towards the conventional codes of photography and what a ‘photograph’ should be, Rochat immerses herself into a synaesthetic process of transforming raw materials. Non-hierarchical and democratic in her way of working, anything can get sucked into her process and churned out as a future piece. One thing can easily slip into another in Rochat’s world, and morph into another thing: a painting is a collage is a photograph; an image is a poem; a rock is a river. Organic and wild, her motives are completely open.


A Rock is a River takes its name from the collection of raw material Rochat gathered to create the book. Much of it was shot in Valle Verzasca, in the Locarno district of her native Switzerland, as well as within other landscapes she has a direct connection to such as Peru, where her father lives. Inspired by the altering states of matter transforming in the natural world – the sculpting forces of continually moving water, rocks transformed by rivers, solids turning to liquids and back again – Rochat works layers of transformation into each her own works, in her own process of sedimentation. 


A Rock is a River is Rochat’s most ambitious book so far, both in terms of scale and physicality. Her photographs are given space to be seen in singularity, and her paintings engage directly with the pages they are placed on. A second layer of visuals born from organic gestures and surfaces overlap the base images, both digitally and manually arranged. Sections of the book are printed in colour and black and white on silver paper, and elsewhere black pages printed with silver pantone ink activate the book, creating physical ruptures each time it flashes when reflecting surrounding light. 


Back to front, upside down, there is no text in the book, leaving no real beginning, and no definite end. How should we read the images? Any normal beginning-middle-end journey one may expect from a book is withheld from the reader, asking us to navigate it for ourselves. 


A Rock is a River is accompanied by a booklet containing an array of texts by people asked to respond to the layout of the book, including: Simon Baker, Paola Paleari, Ingrid Luquet-Gad, Markovian System (Joel Vacheron & Aris Xanthos), Viviane Morey, Ann-Christin Bertrand and Brad Feuerhelm. 


SKU : 0001
  • 800 ex, 300 p., 21x33 cm, hardcover, offsetprint (labuonastampa), 2017
    designed by Nicolas Polli
    published by SPBH

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