Two texts used in this book are an excerpt from Robert E. Lee’s 1856 letter to his wife, Mary, in which he lays out his stance on slavery and a testimony of Wesley Norris, Lee’s former slave, regarding General’s treatment of fugitives.
Today, the great debate about public monuments is carried out in private, online, where we snipe at each other from our respective ideological corners. At the same time, we are losing the physical and communal dimensions of looking for information: standing in front of large books, engaging with the smell and sounds of turning pages, texture and weight of paper, sequence, content and layout of folios. Online, there are no bounds of civility because there is no shared civic space. We must recapture the concept of Agora, the public space where people carry out conversations about morals and politics in public while strolling or standing, their bodies taking up, engaging with and sharing the common space, their thoughts out for examination and debate.
Turn the pages, dear viewer, read the images as if they are text, experience the materiality of the book: how it inhabits and relates to the surrounding public space and people in it, how it feels, sounds and smells. Most importantly, engage someone in a radical act of citizenship—read, critique and publicly discuss a book.
About making of this book:
The one-of-a-kind book is printed using photopolymer intaglio and monotype techniques on handmade mulberry paper. As transparent ink layers were built one after another, pages became oversaturated and transparent, allowing images and text to bleed to the other side, simultaneously obscuring and revealing each other. The colors chosen for this work, warm and cold blue hues, reds that range from light pink to rust to dried blood, suggest bruises on the human body. Transparent, waxy pages suggest human skin. History, after all, is written on the bodies of those who suffered it. Outer cover of the book has been laminated and stained with raw persimmon juice and sealed in wax.
April 2 2018,