by Rana Asfour
London - In November 1966 artist Tom Phillips wanted to find an old book for threepence and alter every page with various techniques to create an entirely new work. The novel he happened to fall upon was a yellow book by W.H. Mallock entitled 'A Human Document'. Phillips decided to call his project 'A Humument'.
According to the artist the naming came about completely by chance. By folding one page in half and turning it back to reveal half of the following page, the running title at the top abridged itself to A HUMUMENT, an earthy word with echoes of humanity and monument as well as a sense of something hewn; or exhumed to end up in the muniment rooms of the archived world.
The first reworking was printed privately in 1973. Almost 50 years later he continues to revise and develop it. This work is currently on display at the Royal Academy of Arts in London (Gallery X) as part of its Summer Exhibition. The gallery shows, in three tiers, the first 48 pages from Mallock's original novel with Phillip's first version and final treatment of these same pages.
The Summer Exhibition, the world’s oldest open-submission exhibition runs until August 16. For more on the exhibition, click HERE.
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