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Pistol/Pistil Botanical Ballistics

By Ann Kalmbach & Tatana Kellner
Rosendale, New York: Women's Studio Workshop, 1997.
Edition of 100.


7 x 8.75 x .75"; 24 pages. Additional pages and enclosures sewn in. Accordion structure with end pages adhered to boards. Silkscreen printed on Mohawk Superfine, UV Ultra, and handmade abaca fiber paper. Bound in wooden covers with leather straps held with bullet casings.


This was deigned and printed while Kalmbach and Kellner were visiting Artists-in-Residence at the University of Southern Maine with help from their students.


WSW: "This accordion fold book examines the use of ordinary words in both botanical and military context. These definitions are juxtaposed with stories and statistics relating to farming and violence."


Judith Klau, Books as Aesthetic Objects: "Pistol/Pistil: Botanical Ballistics is bound in wooden boards held by leather and bullet casings. This book plays graphically and etymologically with the language of agriculture and the language of ordnance.


"The message of the book points primarily to the irony that many words of vegetative growth are identical to words of military destruction, beginning with 'shell' (as in peas and in guns), but immediately reminding the viewer that war alone is not responsible for all the damage inflicted on the environment: the first page details pesticide use: Farmers- 2 lbs per acre, Homeowners- 10 lbs per acre, Golf Courses- 15 lbs per acre; and the later reproduction of a news clipping reports on a woman killed by lightning in her garlic patch.


"Other cognates, like 'mushroom' and 'squash,' are illustrated by razor thin sections of actual dried vegetables in their own envelopes, by lists of 112 varieties of tomatoes surrounding a sardonic folder about using fertilizer to make bombs, and by detailed illustration of the title pair, 'pistol,' and 'pistil.' Through ironic comparisons in language and image the book presents the innocence and productive qualities of nature next to the increasingly antithetical creations of human beings."

Pistol/Pistil Botanical Ballistics

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