Bip in a Book, written with Marcel Marceau
photographs by Steven Rothfeld
This ingenious square volume makes brilliant use of both the great mime’s talents and the idea of the book as a physical object. Fans of Marceau will recognize one of his most famous pieces, “The Cage,” taken to a new level here. The opening spreads feature a seemingly fathomless glossy black background on the left as, opposite, the inventive mime plays out his drama, photographed against a crisp white background. As Marceau approaches readers, he comes up against an invisible wall, which he indicates with hands outspread; in the next photos, he moves toward the right-hand edge of the page, eventually coming to a dead-end there as well. But here’s where he expands on his work in “The Cage”: he next begins to “climb” the edge of the page until he hits the “ceiling,” or top edge of the page. Rothfeld’s photos brilliantly create a cinematic effect: Marceau first loses his hat to gravity, then loses his own tenuous hold, falling (over several spreads) to the bottom of the page. This whole sequence leads to a cleverly imagined interplay with the mysterious blackness that has hitherto remained confined to the left of each spread. Marceau begins to get sucked into the darkness, saves himself, but loses his hat into the black vastness. Much playfulness prevails as Marceau finds a way to retrieve his chapeau. For the uninitiated, this thoughtfully conceived volume is an ideal introduction to the art of mime at its finest; for Marceau’s followers, it is a must.