The Text, Nora Amin

Posted in art, Artist Book, books, writing on June 13th, 2021
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In her long poem “The Text”, Nora Amin uses a surrealistic form of poetic writing to deconstruct gender roles, sexual trauma and patriarchal authority, while composing a humane story of creation.

This book is the result of a collaboration between Amin, the visual artist Katharina Marszewski, and the graphic design studio Eps51. Marszewski responded to “The Text” by creating cryptic drawings that reveal the movements central to Amin’s choreographic poetry. Bilingual script and artwork interpenetrate in Eps51’s unique design, which allows readers to determine the reading direction of the book, depending on their preferred language (Arabic / English).

“The Text” is accompanied by an afterword by Christian Junge, scholar of Arabic literature.

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German Balcony, Chen Haishu

Posted in art, Artist Book, photography on May 10th, 2021
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In the summer of 2017, Chen Haishu and his wife moved to Nordstadt District of Karlsruhe, Germany. The building they live, along with the 50 surrounding buildings with almost the same appearance, belonged to Paul Revere Village, the new military base of the U.S. Army in Karlsruhe after the Second World War. Like other U.S. military bases in Germany, Paul Revere Village is well-equipped and self-contained, like a “small American”. The American troops stationed here had influenced the local German society in different aspects. The changes in the international situation also affected the relationship between the U.S. military in Germany and the German natives. After the end of the Cold War, the American troops withdrew from Karlsruhe and handed over the barracks, together with their supporting facilities – the military airport, schools and other infrastructure to Germany. This area was subsequently converted into a new urban district. The buildings of barracks were expanded, added with extra storeys and equipped with balconies, becoming residential buildings for civilians; the airport was set as a nature reserve. Although the U.S. military has completely withdrawn, its influence on German society for 50 years did not dissipate.

As new residents, Chen and his family experienced and practiced the functional transformation of living space and urban space through their own residence. In the project “German Balcony”, Chen documents the daily life of the area while looking for the material about the U.S. military in Karlsruhe from the local archive, and combines them together. Under different historical conditions, the coexistence of different groups and cultures faces similar or divergent difficulties. In this way, the work blurs the boundaries between the past and the present, public and private, and shows how the current daily life can be re-expanded in this historical relic to create new collective memories.

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Wonders of the Volcano. Salvatore Arancio.

Posted in art, writing on December 28th, 2011
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Wonders of the Volcano. Salvatore Arancio.

Wonders of the Volcano is the first artist’s book by Salvatore Arancio, published by NERO in collaboration with Federica Schiavo Gallery.
Wonders of the Volcano is a faithful reconstruction of a Victorian era book that is part of Arancio’s own collection and the source of some of his etchings. The original volume, printed in London presumably in the second half of the 19th century, was written by Ascott R. Hope and comprises 11 original illustrations in black and white.
Salvatore Arancio has re-elaborated the book’s original images, altering their scientific and documentary function, and added 8 plates to the final section of the volume. The text from the first edition has instead been reprinted in its entirety, and the book’s material and typographic characteristics are identical to the original.
The volume by Ascott R. Hope is an impassioned piece of research into the naturalistic wonders of volcanoes and of the geo-telluric phenomena related to them. The inexact geology of the late 19th century mixes here with landscape descriptions so ingenuous that they transform the underlying romanticism into loose and enthusiastic popular adventure literature. The most impressive natural phenomena – registered at that time not only in Italy, but also throughout Europe, South America, in the Indian east and across the entire Mediterranean basin – are described with all the imprecision of a vague science. In this book, the inductive method overlaps with the deductive, making space for oral testimonies, fairytales and superstitions, all philologically inventoried.
It is not by chance that Salvatore Arancio has chosen to work within a context that is “science-fictional” avant la lettre. The ambiguous alterations that the artist has brought to the original images do not merely evidence the book’s original nature, but, decontextualizing it, reinvent an inexistent past that oscillates between mythology and fantasy.
Such a rehabilitation of the past bears a twofold temporal valence: it looks back in order to go forward. Indeed, by means of this enigmatic booklet, Arancio reverses the very direction at the heart of the concept of innovation – scientific innovation, if we look strictly to the contents of the book; artistic, if we consider the entire conceptual operation – evidencing an “innovative” past on the one hand, and on the other a future that never occurred. And it is precisely into this temporal fissure, tinged with nostalgia, that Arancio drops his hypnagogic, unconscious and apocalyptic imaginary, letting it fluctuate in a spatiotemporal field that belongs neither to the present, nor to the future, nor to our past.
Wonders of the Volcano is accompanied by an insert containing a critical essay by Michael Wilson, editor and freelance critic, and a text on the relation between mythology and geo-telluric phenomena written by Luigi Piccardi, Researcher at the C.N.R. – Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources, Florence.

D € 20

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