‘Rainbow’ by Sarah Boris Celebrates Color, Shape, and the Physical Book Form

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The significance of the physical form of a book—its weight, its tactility, how it feels in your hands, even how it smells—has long tickled my fancy and preoccupied much of my writing for PRINT. I’ve profiled book artist Bel Mills of Scrap Paper Circus, who makes books by hand from salvaged paper items and teaches book arts workshops. I’ve also interviewed Dave Eggers about his innovative book from last year, The Eyes and the Impossible, bound with front and back covers made from die-cut bamboo. Sarah Boris’s newly released book Rainbow piqued my interest for similar reasons. Its two volumes (Rainbow 1 and Rainbow 2) serve as an ode to color and shape in a physical form.

The London-based Boris is as taken by physical mediums as I, primarily working in silkscreen, sculpture, book, and letterpress. She continues her exploration of these proclivities with Rainbow, which features seven layered pieces of paper that gradually form the arches of a rainbow as the pages turn.

Rainbow 1

Rainbow 2

The only difference between Rainbow 1 and Rainbow 2 is the colorways featured, with Rainbow 1 composed of bright hues as they appear in nature and Rainbow 2 exhibiting pastels. The two versions came about when Boris made the book prototype from leftover paper samples she had on hand in her studio while under pandemic lockdown in 2020. During the process, she felt compelled to propose two different color palettes. The two versions can be experienced independently of one another or as a set, with Rainbow 1 seen as the classic and Rainbow 2 as its more interpretive counterpart. Both are made from a range of Japanese papers by Takeo.

To fully understand and experience the wordless books, you must hold them and turn the pages. Both Rainbow 1 and Rainbow 2 have been released in an edition of 222 and are available for purchase in Korea, Germany, the US, and online. Boris is also converting the book into an exhibition, which will be on view in France first in March and April and then again in May and June. This exhibition interpretation will feature the book, 48 modular color pencil drawings, a series of sculptures, and a new, unbound edition. Boris is hopeful the exhibition will soon find a home in the US as well.

In the age of all things digital, virtual, and AI, Rainbow is a refreshing reminder that the physicality of the book form still reigns supreme.  

Rainbow 2

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