‘The 48 Laws of Power (concise): Laws 1-25’


Collage: book pages & silk on paper

h 90 x w 90 cm 2015

Framing: Floating foamcore mount in white wood box frame with TruView non-reflective glass

From a distance the labyrinth pattern in this piece is clear. It’s based on a traditional maze pattern dating back to Roman times called a triple meander. Here, it floats on a blue sea of silk.

On closer inspection, this labyrinth is clearly meant to be read. It contains the pages of Robert Greene’s bestselling book ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ (concise edition). Following the pathway carefully through the labyrinth the chapters unfold one by one.

Step back though and a whole book can be ‘read’ all at once. The brain takes in information presented visually in a different way perhaps. At the centre is the somewhat appropriate goal of this labyrinth – Chapter 24, which is titled “Re-Create Yourself”.

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Law 25: Re-create (Yourself)

In 2013 I took Robert Greene’s bestselling book ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ apart and then put it all back together again (in chapter order) into a wall-size paper labyrinth piece. To re-create it was a labour of love, each half of the book – two pieces 168cm square, taking many days of work, but I got to know the book inside out – literally – and it’s a great read.

In 2015, the publishers seemed to take Law 25 literally and edited the book into a pocket-size version. I bought a copy out of curiosity and it was just too tempting to ignore. Despite having other projects in the studio, I decided I would just have to go through the whole process again with Robert Greene’s book to see what the similarities and differences between the two editions would be.

Mirror Maze

Since the initial piece had been a diptych and I’d used a Roman triple-meander labyrinth as the pattern, I mirrored this exactly. This concise version though is worked onto high grade tracing paper, a medium which behaves a little unpredictably. It tends to warp, buckle and almost dance as you work with it, giving these pieces a floating 3-dimensional quality.

The deep blue silk enhances the translucence and contrasts with the distinctive red text of Joost Elffers‘ original page designs. Despite the bold square format, the grid of the maze bends and twists slightly where the tracing paper has shrunk back. The effect is softening, marking this clearly as a piece created imperfectly and uniquely by hand, as opposed to the mass-produced reality of the digital print publishing run. How many hundreds of thousands of other copies of this book are out there, I wonder?

Law 48: Assume Formlessness

The two pieces can be hung together to form the whole 48 Law story, but they also work as separate artworks in their own right, which is why I’ve listed them here separately. Hung together they form a landscape-shaped piece on the wall which reads left to right and absorbs people for long minutes at a time. When there are two pieces present, viewers tend to compare and contrast – finding similarities and differences between these two works. They almost seem to be having a conversation –

“Re-create Yourself” – “Assume Formlessness” – “Re-create Yourself”

Hung separately, the square format presents itself more directly and the work floats on its blue silk bed. The goal at the centre of the labyrinth seems more centred, naturally, and meanwhile the viewer is free to wander off along the pathways where the other 24 Laws can be found.

This piece, and its mirror/pair, is now sold, and will be welcoming its new owners into their new home in a few weeks. It will be seen (and possibly read) every day and hopefully spark some interesting conversations…  To commission your own favourite book piece, please Contact Michelle for an informal chat to get the process started.

Artworks are also available to rent. Contact Michelle for details.

‘The 48 Laws of Power (concise): Laws 1-25’ was last modified: October 10th, 2018 by Michelle Rumney

Additional information

Dimensions 4 x 90 x 90 cm


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