In February 2019, a collection of 60 bookworks by the sociologist-artist Jan K Coetzee was exhibited in Everard Read Gallery’s CIRCA. The bookworks bring sculpted and found objects into a dialogue with old books to reflect something of the wider social, cultural and historical structures and refrains of our times. The full collection is featured in Coetzee’s book ‘Books & Bones & Other Things’ (SUN PRESS 2018).
The bookwork ‘The Alpha and the Omega’ consists of a skull carved from hardened/solidified sandstone, on an Hungarian text ‘Tükör’ from 1872, together with antique reading glasses and a bronze hourglass. The installation is on a teak tray and contained within an acrylic museum case. In addition to its artistic appeal, this bookwork makes for a beautiful piece in any private or public library.
A signed copy of the book ‘Books & Bones & Other Things’ (2018, SUN PRESS: Bloemfontein, 212pp), stitch-bound in hard cover, accompanies this bookwork, which is fully illustrated and documented on pp. 84-85. This particular bookwork also features on the cover.
Jan K Coetzee dedicated his working life to academia. At the age of 31, in 1979, he became a Professor of Sociology at the (then) University of the Orange Free State, then moved to Rhodes University where he spent 23 years as Professor and Head of the Department Sociology. He returned to the University of the Free State as Senior Professor in 2011. He initiated and directs the programme ‘The Narrative Study of Lives and Documents of Life’. He has published more than 70 scientific articles in accredited and international journals and authored/co-authored more than 20 book publications. He received the Vice-Chancellor’s Book Award in 2002 at Rhodes University for his books ‘Plain Tales from Robben Island’ and ‘Fallen Walls’. His latest book, published in 2019, is ‘Narrating the Everyday’ (with Asta Rau).