A House of the Mind: Maum – Heekyoung Kim and Iwona Chmielewska
The idea behind A House of the Mind: Maum is to play with it: by lifting the pages, setting images in motion, animating shapes, and looking into a mirror. This Polish-Korean picture book with Iwona Chmielewska's illustrations, for which she received the Bologna Ragazzi Award, resembles an animated film about emotions or an analogue cartoon combining philosophy and visual poetry.
A House of the Mind: Maum is a simple picture story about what constitutes a man, printed on an elegant, turquoise paper. In Korean language, maum signifies spirituality: human character, emotions, mind, and memory. Thise visually sophisticated book by Heekyoung Kim begins with the question: what is a soul? – and, following the metaphor of a house, it leads readers through symbolic corridors and rooms of emotions. Answers and interpretations are hidden not only in the laconic text, but can also be fund behind a drawn wall, window, or even in a mirror reflection.
There are steps inside the house of the mind.
When you fight with a friend, you have ten steps in front of you.
When you make your mother sorry, you have one hundred steps in front of you. When the matter is even more difficult, there is one thousand steps. And sometimes they never end.
Thanks to Iwona Chmielewska, a world-renowned illustrator from Toruń, the pages of the book bring to mind film frames, while the geometric forms and images create an illusion of movement. They engage readers in a game with images and encourage them to play with form. The whole creates an impressively consistent artistic project, demonstrating how distant cultures can communicate through images. This exceptional publication has already met with international acclaim, as well as received the prestigious Bologna Ragazzi Award 2011, dubbed the Nobel prize of children's literature.
short, elegant poem which resounds with the silence beloved by Italian Metaphysical painters. […] Everything in this remarkably different, unaffected book – gestures, dreams, memories and quotations – is imbued with a 'vision of the world.' […] Books like this one do honour to children's literature. – the jury said in their verdict.
The first edition of A House of the Mind: Maum was published in South Korea, while the Polish premiere of the book marked the inauguration of the Wrocław's 2016 UNESCO World Book Capital celebrations. The event also received an honorary patronage from the Korean Consulate in Wrocław.
Iwona Chmielewska is the only Polish author with a fanbase in South Korea. She returns there often and with pleasure, leading classes with students in Seoul, and taking part in public talks. Each of her books is a hit. Polish publishers have released, among others, Eyes – a touching story about exploring the world through senses, an illustrated glossary of German culture – Abc.de, Blumka's Diaries, which reveals the Warsaw of Janusz Korczak, or the socially engaged Four Ordinary Bowls. Chmielewska's picture books are also regularly published in China, Japan, Germany, and Taiwan. The Polish edition of A House of the Mind: Maum was published by the Warstwy publishing house under the title Maum. Dom duszy.
sources: Warstwy publishing house, Culture.pl, ed. AL, transl. AM, May 2016Anna Legierska