Room Behavior

Review by Kristine Finstad
FFWD Internet Weekly, July 24, 1997

If only walls could talk. Report secrets of the bizarre and the banal. The stories that take place within the confines of four walls are often more compelling than any that take place in more traditionally adventurous locales. These are the stories that inhabit Rob Kovitz's imagination and cause us to look at our own living or work spaces from a very different point of view.

Room Behavior is a collection of black-and-white photographs of rooms, accompanied by clever snippets of text. The face-en-face format of text vs. photo juxtaposes unexpected "captions," mostly lifted from 20th century fiction, with images of everyday life - empty and furnished rooms, crime scenes, floor plans, film stills and family snapshots, among others. Through imposing a sometimes antithetical description to images that might otherwise evoke a "typical" reaction, Kovitz (who is an architect as well as an author) imparts a personally constructed psychology to each picture.

As two children timidly approach a freshly severed deer head, Gertrude Stein's voice reverberates on the opposite page, "No eye glasses are rotten, no window is useless."

Not your typical comic reaction. However, Yann Martel's concise observation, "The most beautiful rooms I have entered have been empty ones ... I hope to be a pauper by the time I'm thirty," nicely illuminates a photo of the corner of what we assume is a completely empty room.

The book is a unique mini-coffee table paperback, beautifully designed by the inventive Insomniac Press, whose other recent poetic offerings include Jill Battson's Hard Candy and Noah Leznoff's Why We Go To Zoos, both generating well-deserved literary hype. Much more than a "gift" book, Room Behavior is something to pause and reflect on whenever you think about rearranging your furniture.


treyf books
keep refrigerated