Black Current – 1/3 – Research & Process
Black Current show
Maison d’Art Bernard Anthonioz (MABA), Nogent sur Marne, France
September 10 – October 26, 2008
Curated by Etienne Bernard, in collaboration with the Festival de l’Affiche et du Graphisme de Chaumont
Every fall, Maison d’art Bernard Anthonioz works with designers that have a connection to the graphic festival of Chaumont. Because of the KiKiRiKi project that I had there in 2005 (working with historical material), Etienne Bernard asked me if I was interested to do a project in Nogent sur Marne
Being show around in the gallery space and snooping around in the adjacent Smith-Lesouëf library, I immediately sensed the potential of working with whatever I would find in there. No structure, no catalogue, no curators or librarians to restrain me. A unique situation!
Since nobody knew what the library exactely had to offer, I literally had to browse through every shelf and box. I found many beautiful 19th. century publications about nature and the then emerging natural sciences, but I was particularly interested in these bound volumes of Magasin Pittoresque (1835 – 1865), one of the very first popular illustrated magazines in Europe.
When Magasin Pittoresque came into existence, the most common method for the reproduction of images and making them suitable for mass reproduction, was the wood engraving, a technique that required tremendous skills. Image by ‘Freeman’ after a lithographic print (‘Brown Trasher – Toxostoma rufum, defending against Black Rat snake) by the famous 19th. century wildlife artist James Audubon.
A selection of the material was photocopied locally on black and white A4, and brought back to Amsterdam for further study and processing.