The Bustrofedon Book (by Alicia Candiani)
The Bustrofedon Book was produced entirely by the Colombian-Canadian artist César Forero during his residence in ´ace that took place during October-November of 2012.
This monumental artist’s book is made up of 16 scrolls with transparent fabrics over 6 meters long, each of which -installed in the Polyglot Hall- constitutes an allegory against the killing of animals, whether they are killed for commercialization or entertainment as it occurs during cockfights or dogfights, that are still common in Latin America.
Bustrofedon (in Greek: βουστροφηδόν) designates a type of writing that consists of drafting alternately one line from left to right and the following from right to left. It appears in numerous archaic inscriptions, including Greek ones. The voice comes βου (bou): ‘ox’, στροφή (strofée): ‘turn’ or ‘turn’ and στρέφειν (stréfein): ‘turn around’, in such a way that the composition of the term refers to the similarity of this way of writing with the trajectory formed in the farmland with the plow drawn by oxen.
This ancient way of writing is popularly known as snake writing, drawing attention to the visual similarity it has with the ancient Hindu game Moksha-patamu, spread in the West as the game of Serpents and Ladders. In its original version this game raises ethical values, since it symbolizes the moral journey throughout a lifetime, until reaching heaven. The stairs represent virtuous acts that shorten the journey of the soul until reaching a state of ultimate perfection. Snakes are, on the contrary, the representation of human evil, and condemn us to reincarnations in lower forms, represented by silhouettes of different animals.
Forero’s work is imbued with both concepts, the idea that the fabrics can be read as bustrophedon (accentuating the effect of the transparencies between them) and also of the struggle between the forces of good and evil in their sometimes spiral compositions that explode along these canvases / paths / snakes showing us -like an oxymoron- beauty, discovering the harshness in the background and finally reflecting on the attitude of humanity in relation to nature.