A new artists' book
Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
Paw Pad Path
12 page, unique state, concertina artists' book, archival pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm, with covers mounted on black-trimmed board, housed in a linen Solander box with inlaid drawing on Fabriano Artistico 640gsm traditional white hot-press paper
Printed by Arten
A blanching, a blooming, a haze across the painted landscape: efflorescence. A shake of salt on a fox’s coat; white flecks nesting alongside rosy clouds, where the image is breaking down. A smattering of dust, atmospheric pollutants, and mould growth, detectable when you are up close; the migration of free fatty acids, the migration of wax, saponifying. Zoom in and you’ll see the physical deterioration evident in the cracks and fissures of the face of a guanaco (Lama guanicoe). Apply moisture, con rapidez.
Walking through the white spore film of a painted landscape begins with the visual yet for many animals their umwelt does not hinge upon this sense; it is olfactory or auditory, it is beyond our comprehension. Whether cantering, tunnelling, or sleeping on the wing, they have a larger sensory palette than we can imagine. Drawing upon fragments found in digital archives, constructing a forest leaf by wing from historical works out-of-copyright, in a celebration of limitation, a porous pixel boundary emerges on the screen. Animals, commonly shown through a visual, human sense, reveal their forms. In a dense, if cultivated, wilderness, lifted from a painting, suspended as a cut-out: what is it like to be a guanaco or a fox? Using a painted palette younger than (humankinds) experience and buried within, pulling time from centuries past, a moveable orchestra on the monitor, connecting not to cerebral memories but those of marrow.
From canvas to screen and now to page, in the green, by the den, an elbow span from a tiger, a fox sits. With no full stop in the picture plane we’re stitching together, and no adherence to printed page peaks, the fox can travel the entire length of the book, the land, sniffing and hearing an impossible mix of flora and unexpected fauna. The space between our understanding of the world and how a fox sees the world is vast. Painted from human awe, this is another animal entirely. This is the perception of another (artist) looking at a fox. Or is it? Scratching the surface, mixing up the scene, comprised from no less than 167 layers, we find that as Matsuo Basho (松尾 芭蕉, 1644–1694) wrote about the monkey, year by year, the animals’ mask reveals the animal. True, to the core, no matter which way spliced. Our (human) understanding is at the beginning, but this much is unvarnished: an animal is an animal is an animal.
A closer look at Paw Pad Path.
While we will not have this artists' book on display at the forthcoming Melbourne Art Book Fair at the NGV, we will have a smaller, pocket-sized version available. We hope to see you there.
Melbourne Art Book Fair
National Gallery of Victoria
Friday 16th – Sunday 18th March, 2018
Friday 16th March: 10am–5pm
(Friday night opening: 6–9pm)
Saturday 17th March: 10am–7pm
Sunday 18th March: 10am–5pm
(With the exception of the Friday night opening, entry to the fair. is free.)
Image credit: Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison, Paw Pad Path (detail), 2018