Decorah, IA: Solmentes Press, 2022. Quarto. (32)pp. One of thirty copies, from which a percentage of the original sales aided Ukraine TrustChain. Signed by the artist, David Esslemont. Devised as an immediate, empathic response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, the book, in Esslemont's words, aims "to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine and to highlight the recurrent, ubiquitous nature and folly of war." Esslemont is particularly interested in the ways images of the war were disseminated through photographs, news outlets, and political speechmaking. The book intermingles and collages these contemporary images, which bear witness to refugees, tanks, and ruined cities, with archival ones, recalling with intention and precision the thousands of years of similar tragedies left by imperialist oppressors. These latter illustrations reference conflicts in the United States (namely, the Civil War and various campaigns against indigenous peoples), Nazism and World War Two, and British military maneuvers, among others. A fuller list of wars throughout history make up a significant portion of Esslemont's calligraphy, characteristically layered over his illustrations, which themselves sometimes take shape out of layers of montage. Esslemont also transcribes words from a British Pathé newsreel, Vladimir Putin's declaration of his mission in Ukraine, the Ukrainian national anthem, various news headlines, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's speech to British Parliament. The bulk of Esslemont's focus, however, and his textual inspiration, draws on the poem "Resistance" by Simon Armitage. Armitage's verses are both occasionally calligraphed and set out in print at the bottoms of the illustrations, echoing the closed captions of news reports.
Digitally printed using Epson Ultrachrome K3 pigment inks; the resulting pages appear fugitive and somewhat cryptic, appropriate to both the speed with which audiences and media treat traumatic material and the sense of distance that pervades wars elsewhere. Esslemont used typefaces created by designers with a connection to Ukraine: Bifur, Arsenal, Genau, and Seaside. Bound in self-wrappers, with a vibrant dust wrapper. Housed in a drop-back box. Fine. Laid in to the box is a pamphlet providing context and citations. Item #31774