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Martyr Mercury Rooster

By [Arcadian Press / sailorBOYpress] Caren Heft & Jeffrey Morin
Stevens Point, Wisconsin: Arcadian Press/ sailorBOYpress, 2004. 
Edition of 50.


This powerful, exquisitely rendered 3-volume collaboration between Caren Heft of Arcadian Press and Jeffrey Morin of sailorBOYpress is done in the spirit of the ars moriendi (the art of dying), 15th-century Christian texts with instructions about how to die well developed (perhaps) in response to the Black Plague. Heft and Morin use the format ironically to look contemporary scourges: suicide bombers, the destructive effect of mercury in the environment, AIDS. The woodcuts from the Middle Age-originals are replaced by an assemblage of tape, pins, stitchery, beads, and pieces of metal. The effect is powerful, even overwhelming.


[From the colophons of the 3 volumes]
Martyr: "As a contemporary ars moriendi, this
book deals with death, specifically the first Palestinian female bomber, Wafa Idris. It is an attempt to understand why a young woman would strap a belt bomb over her womb and set if off in a public place where victims could be children, elderly or pregnant women. Yasser Arafat, who exhorted women to die for the liberation of Palestine, died during the printing of this book.

"Suicide bombers are currently the weapon of choice for terrorist organizations. They are low-cost, use unsophisticated technology, are readily available, require little training and strike fear into the hearts of the population. Women have an added advantage, as in the Muslim world they are searched gingerly. World-wide, women are perceived as non-violent, adding an element of surprise. Suicide bombers attain extensive media coverage for their organizations as casualties are often high. Media coverage is a good recruitment tool and furthers political agenda."


Mercury: "What child does not remember finding some excuse to play with mercury in a science class? That same child probably has some memory related to fishing. We all share the image that opened the Andy Griffith Show where father and son walk a country road on the way to their favorite fishing hole. Did anyone expect that today’s childhood memories would intertwine mercury and fishing in such a dangerous way? In most counties in Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources limits the consumption of fish as well as the daily catch limit."


Rooster: "In fifteenth century Europe, the level of literacy had been on the decline. Ars Moriendi were picture manuals for one’s preparation to meet death. On one level they were intended to ease the transition and prepare one’s family for the coming loss. On another level, these manuals were a form of propaganda, advising the soon-to-be-departed to give heavily to the Church to guarantee a better place in Heaven or at least a seat further from the flames of Hell.


"This book is one of three that deal with modern forms of death that visit a population. In this case it is the presence of AIDS in Africa and how a culture responds to and interprets the mortal threat. Sibongile’s story comes from 'Child rape: A taboo within the AIDS taboo; More and more girls are being raped by men who believe this will "cleanse" them of the disease, but people don't want to confront the issue," Sunday Times, South Africa, April 4, 1999, by Prega Govender. It is combined with the story of Gumha and the Large Rooster as told by the Sukuma Research Committee. The two unrelated stories have been blended together to create a modern narrative that sets the stage for confronting death." 


12 x 8.75". Three individual books of handmade paper, housed in a 13 x 10 x 2.5" clamshell cloth covered box. Papers: Root River Mill cotton, Larroque, and Hahnemuhle. The Hahnemuhle gelatin sized (with pigment added-in). Typeface throughout: Cochin Light.

(7 copies remaining)

Martyr Mercury Rooster

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