New York artist Vija Celmins has made many images of the night sky--paintings, drawings and prints of gorgeous richness. In The Stars , she and her collaborator, the essayist and translator Eliot Weinberger, devote an artist's book to the theme. Celmins created three celestial prints for the project, which she also designed. One print, inspired by the worn binding of an early twentieth-century Japanese book, becomes the volume's mottled deep-blue cover; the second and third prints are images of the night sky, one of them negative--dark stars on a pale ground. For the text, Weinberger assembled a catalogue of descriptions of the stars drawn from around the world, and from an array of historical, literary and anthropological sources. This mythopoetic charting of the night sky evokes the vastness of the human imagination's response to a space itself vast and unknowable. Appearing in English and also in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese and Maori, the text supplements Celmins's images visually as well as verbally. The Stars was originally a limited-edition livre d'artiste published this year by the Library Council of The Museum of Modern Art.
Eliot Weinberger is a contemporary American writer, essayist, editor, and translator. His work regularly appears in translation and has been published in some thirty languages. Weinberger first gained recognition for his translations of the Nobel Prize winning writer and poet Octavio Paz. His many translations of the work of Paz include the Collected Poems 1957-1987, In Light of India, and Sunstone. Among Weinberger's other translations are Vicente Huidobro's Altazor, Xavier Villaurrutia's Nostalgia for Death, and Jorge Luis Borges' Seven Nights. His edition of Borges’ Selected Non-Fictions received the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.
Less expensive reprint of the MOMA limited edition "art book". Yes, could use more art, and the added translations feel like "filler". But still love this essay/poem, and the art work associated with it here. Probably just for fans of the writer and/or artist. What is there is beautiful - but do wish there was more to it.
I'm a Celmins captivee, but this reeks of a MoMA board's merchandising program. Of the three artworks, one is slathered as cover; the other two are vellum inserts, stars in negative, that land with a flat visual thud. The poem is passable but the translations into world music feel like so much filler. An artist's book that could be so much more. The worst part would be if they used the proceeds to buy Elizabeth Peytons.