Unlike Woolf’s Orlando, book artist Sarah Bodman did remember her trowel when she went to bury her book. However, fearing that (like Rossetti) she might repent her sacrifice and attempt to retrieve her book, she (again like Rossetti) passed on the responsibility to others to act in her absence. Bodman’s art book An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen (2010) describes the creation and interment of a storybook. Johannessen’s book Exercises, a pastiche of serious spiritual and physical exercise books, is made up of a series of strange and whimsical instructions such as “Eat peas and think of princesses”, “Go into the forest. Dig a hole and scream in it”, and “Bury an umbrella on a rainy day” (Johannessen 2001). As Bodman describes it, “One of the exercises in the book is: “write 100 stories and bury them in a forest”. So I did.” (Bodman 2010: 2).
Bodman wrote the 100 short stories in a blue square-ruled exercise book. Her art book lists only the titles of the stories, including “There was an old lady”, “More volcanoes”, “Equations” and “Collaborative dreaming for Dick Turpin”. The stories themselves are not reproduced because, as Bodman explains, she interpreted the exercise to mean that the burial was meant to hide the stories from readers’ eyes. As Bodman’s exercise was for Kurt Johannessen she wanted to bury the book in a forest as close to his native Norway as possible: in the event the book was buried in Denmark while Bodman attended the Doverodde Book Arts Festival. The book was taken into the forest and buried: Bodman’s art book shows the hole being dug, the book in place at the bottom, and finally the site with the earth replaced in the hole, surrounded by moss, leaf litter and small pine trees.
Burying the book
My thanks to Sarah Bodman for permission to use her images. I strongly recommend that you print and assemble a copy of her book – linked below.
Bodman, S. 2010. An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen. [link to download of book]
Johannessen, K. 2001. Exercises. Bergen: Zeth Forlag.