Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Daniel Spoerri, An Anecdoted Topography of Chance (Topographie Anécdotée du Hasard), London: Atlas Press, 1962/1995

This accordion slipped into the back of the latest iteration of this iconic artists' book hardly meets the definition on an accordion with its 2 folds. In fact I would say that it represents the absolute minimum for a definition of an accordion, for a piece of paper with only 1 fold is just a folded piece of paper. Either way this accordion allows me to feature one of my favorite artists' book in an effort to let other people become acquainted with this fascinating and multi-layered book.

The first edition of Spoerri's (b. 1930) book was published as an exhibition catalogue for an exhibition of his works at the Galerie Lawrence, Paris, in 1962. This catalogue also featured the same fold-out map at the back of the publication. The map consists of hand drawn outlines of all 80 objects that were on the artist's table at 3:47 pm on 17 October, 1961. Spoerri gave a number to each object and the book is comprised of descriptions of each object accompanied by his annotations related to each one. In 1966 Something Else Press printed an updated version that included anecdotes from Emmett Williams, the translator of the text, as well as new observations by Spoerri. This 1995 version by Atlas Press includes even more updated annotations by these two artists as well as anecdotes from Dieter Roth and illustrations by Topor. On the back of this publication's map of objects is an assemblage of photographs that depicts the table in Spoerri's room where the drawing was done. This photo-assemblage is titled "Cubist View of My Room, No. 13, Hotel Carcassoonee," with the photographs credited to Vera Mertz Spoerri. The idiosyncratic structure of this wonderfully humorous book enables it to weave together layers and layers of memories, stories, anecdotes and annotations into a kind of perpetual motion machine for the production of meaning.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Carlos Oquendo de Amat, 5 Metros de Poemas, Brooklyn: Ugly Duckling Press, 2010

Published as part of Ugly Duckling Press' "Lost Literature Series," this poem was originally published in Peru in 1927. This new version is double-sided with the original Spanish on one side and an English translation on the other. Individual pages 9.25"x 8.75", the 27 pages fully extended measure 19' x 8.75". The text below is taken from the Ugly Duckling Press' description and history of the publication. Visit them at: Ugly Duckling Presse

"Carlos Oquendo de Amat's 5 Metros de Poemas was written in the period between 1923 to 1925 and published in a very small edition in December 1927. Oquendo de Amat died at the age of 32 shortly after the publication. Carlos Oquendo de Amat’s only book of poems, it bears the stamp of the influence of European avant gardes, and Futurism in particular. At the same time, it is clearly a corner-stone for what would later become Concrete Poetry. A facsimile edition of the unusually shaped accordion-fold book was published in 1980 in Lima by Editorial Ausonia Tallares Graficos. A translation of the poem (without the original Spanish) was published in the United States by Turkey Press in the early 1990s, in a very limited fine-press edition. Published in a bi-lingual edition, UDP's new version of 5 Meters of Poems recreates the peculiar physical format of the book, and it is the first edition of this historic poem to be made widely available in the United States.

Carlos Oquendo de Amat was part of an extensive and urgent vanguardist poetry world in Lima, Peru in the second two decades of the 20th century. Oquendo de Amat’s only book of poems, 5 Metros de Poemas, is simultaneously one of the most celebrated and unknown examples of the diversity of the poetry of this cultural moment. He was the son of a Sorbonne-educated progressive newspaper publisher, who was both a prominent member of the elite of Puno, a highland provincial capital on the shores of Lake Titicaca, and an irascible enemy of Peru’s Catholic-conservative establishment. Upon the death of his father in 1918, the teenage Oquendo de Amat and his mother moved from provincial genteel comfort to Lima where they lived in poverty. He was often lucky to have enough money for just one meal a day. Friends say he would regularly skip that one meal to have enough to go to the cinema, a guiding obsession evidenced in his work. Lima in this moment was in a state of rapid, at times violent, growth and transformation as it filled with the members of the new working and professional classes. All social relations were being torn apart and rebuilt and the poets of this strange new old city turned to the works of the various European vanguards for guidance in how to respond to this sudden outbreak of modernity. Oquendo de Amat embodied many of the contradictions of this vanguard. After being imprisoned a number of times, during various crackdowns on dissent, he emphatically embraced Marxism and renounced poetry. During one of his stints in prison he contracted tuberculosis, which worsened rapidly during subsequent prison terms. Released from his last prison term in his homeland, he was deported to Panama from where he barely managed to reach Republican Spain in time to expire at the age of 32."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

John Sibbick, Flesh and Bone, London: Nobrow Ltd., 2011

Another cool double-sided publication from London's Nobrow press' series of accordions — see previous entry for Micah Lidberg's beautiful Rise & Fall, 2010. John Sibbick is a self described palaeoartist and a superb draughtsman of these historically accurate reconstructions of the prehistoric period with all its animals and flora & fauna. Individual pages 9.25" x 5.5", extended 4' 7". The following text is from Nobrow's listing of this accordion. Visit them at: http://www.nobrow.net/

Flesh and Bones is John Sibbick’s first collaboration with NoBrow. Many of you will have grown up leafing through John’s meticulously illustrated natural history and dinosaur books, in fact, John is probably responsible for what you think a dinosaur, or dinosaurs in general, look like in their general outward appearance.

He has covered a variety of subjects ranging from educational to fantasy. He is probably best known for his prehistoric reconstructions in books, magazines, museums, television and other media.

This beautiful concertina book, on the other hand, gives you an intimate look at what animals you may have actually seen or at least have seen photographs of, look like on the inside. In the great spirit of those diagrammatic natural history books we all loved as children, Nobrow and John bring back the sense of wonder the natural world holds in all its awe inspiring complexity. Flesh and Bone folds out to a stunning 136 cm double-sided panorama, one side displays the animals as they appear in nature (with some playful twists) and the other side shows those same animals stripped down to bone. Only an experienced artist with as intimate a knowledge of animal anatomy as John, whose clients frequently include National Geographic and Puffin books, would be capable of such feats of visual dexterity.

The concertina can be coloured in, left as is, read or folded out and displayed on your mantle peice, Flesh and Bones: A Colouring Concertina is a great gift for a kid as much as it is is for a student of nature, draughtsman in training, or any illustration afficionado.

John Sibbick trained in Graphics and Illustration at Guildford College of Art in the south of England, followed by four years in design studios in London before becoming a freelance illustrator in 1972.

John has designed a number of dinosaur exhibits for a variety of prestigious National institutions including London’s Natural History Museum, the Museum of Scotland and The Gamagori Museum in Japan and has worked as an illustrator for a number of respected publishers of natural history books including National Geographic, Kingfisher and Puffin.