Between Folds / Maps 19th & 20th Century / Encyclopaedia Brittanica 1797 / Sheet Music 19th & 20th Century
2003 – 2011 by Francisca Prieto
Prieto’s work provokes intrigue from the moment you come across it and what’s more, this intrigue never dies. For as one comes closer to the glass, letting their eyes wander across the sculptural tiles of folder paper, the discovery of what is carefully exposed at each angled shape is mesmerising. Prieto’s work is made from the printed page; it is the old, the beautifully printed, and historically fascinating that she uses the most, trawling antiques dealers and bookshops for paper inspiration. Far from sacrilege to the book, Prieto’s work allows forgotten dusty and broken volumes a visual voice, a purpose for the missing pages that would otherwise be worthless. A closed book on a shelf is rarely looked at whereas Prieto’s work creates dozens of little windows for us to look into, showing us the wondrous and intricate illustrations of history that usually lie hidden. Not that Prieto’s work doesn’t find a voice of its own; it is through working with these images, folding the pages, that her own thoughts emerge. Through patterns of colour or shape, we find the shadow of an alphabet letter across a composition or lines of faces hidden among squares. Interestingly, Prieto often doesn’t know what will emerge until she begins, until she starts her own way of reading the pages. The process is so involved, so concentrated, it is no wonder that the finished pieces are so telling and exposing of the pages they come from. Looking at her work, one becomes intensely aware of the original article though not all of it is visible. In Between Folds / Sheet Music the notes seem to reverberate off the page in their refusal to lie flat; the pattern of treble and base clef quavers folded upright and upside-down seem to euphorically merge in their meaning, their sound, as one seems to hear them tumultuously together as through an instrument. In the compositions made from maps, each unfolded opening onto a certain road or place seems to magnify it in our eyes as Prieto uses her technique to play with our sense of scale, drawing our attention to something that might have been otherwise passed over. Prieto’s work is both clever and beautiful, furthering and focusing our appreciation of detail.