Ten Years of Uzbekistan
1994: edition of 45 plus 5 APs
508 x 356 mm; 60 pp. plus printed endpapers
Printed by polychrome letterpress using woodletter numerals and Monotype Bodoni type. Bound in black cloth in a black cloth slipcase.
'Ten Years of Uzbekistan' is a collaboration with the photographer David King. During research for his archive on Soviet Art, King discovered a copy of a book designed by Alexander Rodchenko, who had been driven to obliterate, with ink and paint, the names and faces of those in that book who had fallen from the favour of and been destroyed by Stalin. While writing the text King discovered their names and, where possible, their fates. Ten portraits, nine altered by Rodchenko and the tenth of Stalin as an endpaper to Rodchenko's book, were enlarged and layered over each other in a process of mutual silencing. I surrounded each of the marred faces with a printed frame that reflected both the page margins and, I hoped, the frame of a Russian ikon. This framing device is echoed in the preserving of photographs of the beloved and the dead. The frames were made from thin zinc plate glued to wooden mounts. During the violence of the printing process the zinc started to buckle and shift. The buckling gave strange printing effects. The movement was stopped by firing staples from a gun into the zinc. This produced odd images from the staples: chromosomic; buglike; giving hints of the buttoning of the lip. The same frame, but well ordered, was used to surround the texts of the introduction.
This work stands as witness to the victims of censorship, and to the shame of self-censorship as a strategy of survival. In Russia it is said 'here we die for it'; meaning poetry.