David Kennedy Cutler, “Against Geology / The Blossoms of Greenpoint”
Artist: David Kennedy Cutler (Brooklyn, NY)
Title: Against Geology / The Blossoms of Greenpoint (2011)
Medium/technique(s): 3 color Silkscreen leporello, 2 offset booklets, large format Xerox, hand-stitched embroidery floss
Edition size: 500 / 30 / 10
Number of pages: 48 plus additional materials
Dimensions, open: 18″ x 30″
Dimensions, closed: 8″ x 6″
For most of 2011, an evolving publishing project consumed my apartment, my studio and my correspondences. After receiving a publishing award from Printed Matter in 2010, I began work on Against Geology / The Blossoms of Greenpoint. I had 3 goals for this artist’s book: to publish the first book about the Greenpoint Oil Spill in Brooklyn, NY; to produce a book reflective of the work I was making in my studio; to create a product with a form that reflected the myriad layers and permutations of the “geology” of my local environment, which influenced my studio practice.
In the application images, you will notice 3 distinct publications. Each of these publications is dependent on the others and each manifestation includes the book Against Geology / The Blossoms of Greenpoint (edition size 500). The evolution of these 3 books was practical, as well as conceptual, and that is why I am applying the entire project.
Producing a large edition size is part of my commitment to affordable disseminated artworks. I found my Printed Matter publishing award didn’t cover the cost of the complexity of the book. In order to raise the necessary funds, I pre-sold a Special Edition of the book. This edition of 30 included the book housed inside a custom “concrete slab box” which also contained a unique multiple, a “Greenpoint core sample”: an inkjet print of an oil rainbow and shattered compact discs cast in a resin disc.
The presale was successful, and allowed me to publish the edition of 500 and sell it relatively inexpensively. Here the book is described in the press release for the launch:
Against Geology / The Blossoms of Greenpoint is a multi-layered artist book. Using the vernacular of a split 7 inch record, the publication is comprised of two distinct books, each with its own title and cover. The leporello format allows the book to be flipped, folded and expanded into an interactive object with multiple permutations, and a removable poster-sized map adds another potential discovery. The book is composed of two essays (written by the artist) with accompanying images, expanding on of the artist’s investigations into the Greenpoint Oil Spill. In the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, New York lies the world’s largest urban oil spill, estimated at 17 to 30 million gallons (three times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill). Cutler’s studio is situated above the edge of the spill, and in the artist’s words, “I began to regard the spill as my only local natural resource, and decided to tap into it, exploit it.” In the essays and images incorporated in this publication, Cutler ruminates on oil, rainbows, geology, plastic, human evolution, architecture, monuments, language, and theoretical futures of the Earth.
Packing so much content into so small an object, while trying to maintain a formal relationship to the sculptures I make in my studio resulted in a final installment in this trilogy of publications. When asked by Alden Projects (NY) to produce a limited edition, I chose to not to start from scratch, but to translate the project into a nearly fully sculptural object (while still using the vernacular of a book). The result, Against Geology / Content Come Undone (edition of 10), looked and felt more like my sculptures, and was able to bring the book almost entirely back to a formal object. The Plexiglas slipcase enhanced the visible layers of the book, and a new multiple “core sample” was composed entirely of the pages of an excavated section of a hardbound volume composed of cast-off content from the original publication. I felt satisfied at the publisher’s simple description: “a book within a book within a book within a book.”
I believe that exhibiting all three books would illustrate processes both practical and conceptual, and provide an example of how an artist might attempt to fuse handmade and commercial production, produce both limited and larger editions, and combine sculpture with the 2-dimensional page.