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Archive for August, 2008

SHELFLIFE #12B: CYNTHIA’S LETTERPRESS INVITE

Friday, August 29th, 2008

I always loved Cynthia Connolly’s photos. Her icebox portraits were stunning–this collection of these forgotten artifacts of design, convenience and refrigeration–collected and documented with the same respect anthropologists would pay to a tribe of Algonquins in traditional regalia on a reservation somewhere. A few weeks ago, I saw one of her photos of Alleged Gallery’s last NYC group show in a Times article about Beautiful Losers. Monika asked if I was the sole person in the photo–crouched on the floor, working on a video installation. I was.

I dug up this invite that Cynthia had made for a show in SF back in 2001. I hung onto it as it was the first concrete reinforcement that came across my mailbox as to how accessible letterpress could still be in such a digital age. I remember emailing Cynthia after receiving the invite and asking her about the press and the type. She said she’d been rather ravenously collecting type sets and had a monstrously heavy press. I had always loved old dadaist and futurist letterpress work. I knew that the center for book arts here in NY had a press. I had always wanted to play around, but never mustered up the chutzpah to just do it. So, I filed this away and promised myself that one day I’d find a project that would force me to somehow experiment with letterpress.

Last week, I started pulling together all of the production components for a new book edition I’m about to release. The edition, like FORE, has two incarnations–a numbered collection of 5 offset posters bundled together and editioned at 300 pieces and a signed and numbered edition of 400 18″x24″ 15 page books–where each book has a different hand-stenciled painting atop each of the poster prints. As the posters are all riffs on a wallpaper line I’m working on, the paintings are each of something different that happens against, on or near a wall when society’s collective back is against a wall. In keeping with this theme, the project is titled, “BUT THEY DON’T BLINK.” It, like FORE, is another wayward children’s book.

Anyway, letterpress–I needed a set of bold typography to be applied to the packaging I designed for the project. Once I had decided that I would hand-stencil 6000 paintings, I figured, “what the fuck! I’ll leterpress the 400 packages too!” I couldn’t though, so I’m faking it with block printing. I laser etched a set of rubber blocks with my typograghy, mounted them on foam and then to acrylic blocks. It’s not exactly letterpress yet, but I’m getting there. I just wanted to take this post to give Cynthia props for inspiring that.

Here’s Cynthia’s invite. I’ll post my stamps and posters as shelflife 13A later this weekend–along with a great Wolf Eyes lathe that Nate traded me sometime back as 13B.