Item #33097 The Island Whale. Anneli Skaar.
The Island Whale.
The Island Whale.
The Island Whale.
The Island Whale.
The Island Whale.
The Island Whale.
(Social Justice)

The Island Whale.

Skaar, Anneli (illus.)

(N.p.): Two Ponds Press, 2022. Small quarto. (40)pp. One of twenty-five copies. A contemplative, grief-stricken, and urgent endeavor in environmental advocacy, textual analysis, innovative printing, and craft assemblage, Skaar's Island Whale takes as its archival template the aesthetic of the American logbook, in which each entry records human interactions with and impositions upon whales. The sources attend to the long historical sweep of the notion of whales as monsters, beasts to be tamed, huge predators of the sea, and, thus, threats to oceanic industries; the excerpts include the Babylonian Talmud, the Icelandic Saga of Örvar-Odd, Sinbad the Sailor, and Paradise Lost. Each of the passages connects whales to the perceived sinking of islands, the illusion of the whale as the island itself, and here Skaar situates her historical treatment within the current climate crisis, connecting the ecological importance of cetaceans to the very real vulnerability of islands like Kiribati, and the exploitation of both animals and low-wage workers, like sailors, by enterprises bent on capitalist profit.

Skaar's attentions to both the archive and the oppression of extraction constitute the very materials of the project. The type, designed by Brian Willson at Three Islands Press and named "Schooner Script," is modeled on a nineteenth-century letter by Samuel Clarke, a pastor in Princeton, Massachusetts, in which he requests donations for victims of an accident at sea. The title lettering is Geographica, a type based on the place-names and peripheral text found on the eighteenth-century maps of Thomas Jefferys. The illustrations themselves are inspired by those found in logbooks, and each one incorporates products of whaling—parasols, corsets, and hat brims—as well as allusions to Shell Company oil tankers. Blood-red details remind the reader of the violence of the industry.

Included in the box are objects, which implicate the reader in the haptic, everyday realities of whaling. A plastic sperm whale tooth is scrimshawed; a handmade paper rose evokes the roses of Nantucket; a handmade paper feather exemplifies eighteenth-century writing culture, as does the box itself, which is structured like a writing desk. The tooth, feather, and whale stamps found in the book's pages are printed in Air Ink, a breakthrough technology developed at MIT that captures carbon from air pollution as its chemical base. The interconnectedness of these diverse materials offer, as Skaar puts it, a hope that "man's ingenuity as well as his potential wisdom...can still have the power to inspire new stories." Mint. Item #33097

Price: $7,500.00

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