May Be I Was a Bottle: Mixed Media

Artist Statement

Many pebbles in the Mediterranean Sea are the result of the dumping of construction debris or refuse in the water to prevent beach erosion. By undergoing the trauma resulting from sea storms and constant turning and tossing, the material is gradually transformed.

After their previous identity and purpose is destroyed, the objects emerge as apparently useless, beautiful small pebbles: they become works of art, sculptures we don’t pay much attention to, but they embody the un-achievable beauty of nature I would like to reach.

May be I was a bottle is a twenty-page unique book wanting to tell the story of some of the pebbles I found while walking on the shore. By sewing them on the twenty pages of my book, I am not interrupting their destiny, as they are to be turned with their pages, our hands doing more or less what the waves have been doing all along.

By sewing with my sewing machine on the pages of the book, and having my needle rhythmically dipping into the surface of the paper, I metaphorically swim into the new waves where the pebbles now live.

The text of the book reads (pages one through twenty):

May be I was a bottle

But there is more water then I can hold. Now I know, now I know

May be I was a sculpture or a manmade sculpture of some kind

But there was more water than I could stand to.

Now I know, now I know

Who knows may be I was a rock.

But it looks like the water broke me off, broke my up

The water. It loved me so much, it loved me too much it broke me up. Who was sharp? I am harmless

I remember I was sharp. I could have hurt you!

Then the water took my anger away. I think

O yah! May be I was a bottle, but there is much more water then I could hold

This book was made in collaboration with the Mediterranean Sea. It includes six sculptures by it. I always thought swimming is like sewing.

Elena BerrioloElena Berriolo, born in Savona, Italy in 1959, moved to New York in 1994. Since 2012 she has been making books while performing with sewing machine. Performances include “Sewing Music into Visual Art,” with sewing machine and piano  (2013 and 2015), and “A Book as a Bridge,” a performance with sewing machine in the New York City transportation system (2015 and 2016). Her unique books have been acquired by several institutions including: Biblioteque National de France; Smith College Northampton, MA; University of Delaware Library, Newark, DE; Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany; and Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, La Jolla, CA.