Cairo: Islam Aly, 2023. Number 3 of 50 copies signed, numbered, and dated by Islam Aly, the artist. A coptic bound triangular shaped book with boards covered in full green leather and gilt title stamped to the front board. Leather straps ending in brass triangles wrap around the book to hold it closed. Text and images are laser-cut on Fabriano paper. The book is housed in a blue cloth covered box with etched plexiglass side panels and a drawer-like structure that pulls open.
The artist describes his book about rising sea levels in Egypt: "The book "Delta" uses the symbol to represent a change or difference in quantity between two values in mathematics and science. The term "Delta" also refers to Lower Egypt, where the Nile River delta is located. This delta is one of the world's largest, stretching from Alexandria to Port Said. However, rising sea levels put much of the northern delta, including the historic port city of Alexandria, at risk of being submerged in the Mediterranean.
"Delta" highlights the global crisis of rising sea levels and its impact on deltas worldwide. It contains a descriptive poem for the Nile Delta by Nicholas Michell and features images of sea monsters from The Carta Marina by Olaus Magnus, initially published in 1539.
Sea monsters have been a part of human folklore for thousands of years and are often depicted in artwork and stories as symbols of danger and the unknown. These images serve as a reminder of the risks and uncertainties of the ocean and remain a symbol of the unknown.
The contrast between the descriptive poem and the sea monsters underscores the gravity of the topic and its importance. Delta is enclosed in a box with two transparent sides that display laser-cut images. The front features an old map of the Nile Delta, and the back shows an old map of Alexandria port." Size: Box is 9 x 9 x 2.5 inches; Book has 8 inch sides.
Islam Aly is an Egyptian-born book artist and teacher based in Cairo, who studied book arts and art education at the University of Iowa. His books explore the possibilities of historical bindings in contemporary book art practices They have appeared in international exhibitions in the United States and abroad, and in private and public collections including the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Library of Chile, Yale University, and Bibliotheca Alexandrina. In an artist's statement he writes: "When I make a historical book structure, I go through a learning process. I learn the history as well as the different physical aspects of the binding such as how a book form is constructed in a specific sequence. I learn about the use of different materials such as paper, wood, leather and dyes. I learn to make choices in selecting and replacing traditional materials that I don’t have access to. I use these different experiences to enhance my work in making artists’ books and to use historical and cultural references from these structures in the actual content. In essence, I wish to explore new ways to use the rich structures of historical books in contemporary artists’ book practice and incorporate contemporary content into strictly historical structures." ARTISTSB/040623. Fine.