The recipient of this year’s Juror Choice Purchase Award is Sarah Bryant’s book, Fond. Fond is available, along with Sarah’s other work, for purchase here.
is an investigation of our impulse to collect and preserve small, valueless objects. These objects help us create create a simple, personal narrative. A “fond” is a collection of documents organically accumulated by a person or institution. Using halftone photographs, color silhouettes, and a winding sinew of text, I constructed an abstracted and personal history of ten objects from my own collection.
The slim volume is housed in a duo-tone chemise of cloth the color of marigolds with grayish brown Zerkall paper strips overlaid at the head and tail. A label is on the lower right of the chemise’s front, arcing up at an angle from left to right. Intriguingly this label does not mention the title of the work, that tidbit is reserved for the book’s interior title page. Instead, the chemise label has this phrase “constitutes a piece of evidence about the past.” The book also lacks a spine label. The book’s front cover has another paper inset label with overlaying sentences printed in a light tone forming the background for the darker printed phrase “an account of an act or occurrence”. This label is in an organic shape (think lanceolate leaf shape) that repeats throughout the text block. The book is covered with tan book cloth, bound in a flat back drum leaf binding. As is consistently the case with Sarah’s work the book is impeccably designed, printed and bound.
Fond, at about 7×4 inches closed, is a wonderful size to hold in two hands. It functions well, a fact that is much appreciated in this case because text and image go across the gutters on each spread. The first several pages introduce the ten objects with narrative; the appendix or book legend (nearly as many pages as the narrative section) includes, along with an image of the object, its descriptive name, weight, material, place and year of acquisition. A helpful centimeter rule is also provided, printed along the left side of the appendix’s first spread.
Following the title page, the narrative section opens with an image that is a graphic shape of one of the 10 objects – the nut. We learn from the appendix that the nut was acquired in Prague in 2003 and weighs 5 grams. Sarah’s text begins: “The nut constitutes a piece of evidence about the past. It is the sum of past achieve…”
That sentence continues on to the next page, alongside graphic and textual introductions to four more of the ‘fond’ objects. For each object the description is started on one spread and moves through the book, along with the continuation of the description of the other introduced objects. Turning the page gives introduction to three more objects, the next page the final two. The text visually weaves and overlaps just as these objects have layered and woven through Sarah’s recent years, The final page spread of this section has all the sentences converging into one dark block of inkiness. Turn the page and, a whisper of the book’s governing motivation “I recollect”.
Savoring this book involves moving back and forth from page to page, perhaps to pick up an earlier thread of a particular object’s tale and following it through; then paging back to begin the narrative about another object. The drum leaf binding, with its slightly stiffer pages, facilitates this forward/backward movement. The wonder is that, although there are so many stories overlapping, the book pages are spare and clean.
Fond is available, along with Sarah’s other work, for purchase here.