Dan Elborne

Where They Burn Books [00196 – 00212], 2021

10 cm
The first set of this ongoing series was made during a 2016 residency at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Centre in Denmark, and was influenced by the stark symbolism of book burnings.

Where They Burn Books references the power, resilience and preciousness of knowledge, despite forces against it. By strengthening these porcelain objects through the firing process; they stand as martyrs to spoken, written and remembered language; and in a contemporary context, they celebrate society’s unprecedented and exponential access to stories, testimony and ideas.
Each piece is hand-carved and carefully dried over the course of months. Displayed amongst the groupings are dark forms, which are created from an experimental composite material that suspends reclaimed porcelain in compressed paper ash. This material is also used to fill and accentuate cracks in the porcelain pieces.

Not long before the residency where this series started, the idea formed while researching for a multi-year project I was undertaking at the time. In nineteenth-century German Jewish poet, Heinrich Heine’s play Almawnsor (1820-21), which was burnt in 1933 Germany, Heine wrote: “Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people.”
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