For three months I lived as one of 18 artists on the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, free of charge. The deal was that I should leave a "trace". An art work of sorts, manuscript pages, anything I felt represented me or my work. Another deal was that I should be ready to open my doors for visitors, mostly art people. One time it was a curator from Tate Modern. I was biting my nails in room 22. My room was full of invisible things. How was I to point to the richness so that the potential visitor could see? I soon found out that there was no reason to panic. No one came to my room. They all wanted to visit the visual artists. I do not blame them. I also wanted to visit the visual artists. Their studios were interesting, they were filled with wind-up horses and helium balloons and ceramic sticks. Underpants that read: ADIOS. Live silk worms that crawled around on Chairman Mao jackets.
It made me think about what it is that I do. It made me think about the magic of reading. Literature is unique among the arts because the actual doing of the work is shared between the author and the reader. If I see a film there is a director who has decided how the heroine looks, how roads, the houses, the world, everything look. The visual artist has decided how the visual artwork looks. The composer how the music sounds. A book is different. On the pages there are words. The writer put them there. They resemble the visual arts in that they form an image of sorts, black letters on a white page. The resemble music in that they have a sound. But it takes a reader to unfold the words into something unforgettable. As I read the invisible becomes visible in my imagination. What I unfold (or what is magically unfolding for me) is not the same as what the writer imagined. Reading is perfectly intimate and wild, something completely private. It can not be separated from my own experience and my own imagination. Still, I don’t imagine just anything. Only what these particular words had me imagine.
A reader is a special creature. Reading takes time. To unfold worlds in one’s imagination takes patience. But it can also be a indescribably rewarding work. I decided to make a tribute to the reader. My "trace" was a small book of maps on some of the invisible things I had worked with in room 22. There are ten maps to fold out. The maps show the invisible things - IMAGINARY OBJECTS - impressions, scenes, places, events, vistas. I write what is on the map, and then the reader folds it out and see it. The book is a spectacle, a celebration of the magic of reading. It looked like this.