Liber Ignis is a collaborative project of appropriations, inventions, and constructs documenting the ongoing war against nature in the American West by Peter Rutledge Koch
Collage poem composed in counterpoint to the images by Adam Cornford
Image manipulation, surface engineering, & binding structure by Jonathan Gerken
In May of 2013, while visiting the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, Germany I unexpectedly found myself in a small gallery saturated with the leaden-grey ashes of war and suffering. I felt as if I had entered into Baudelaires poem “La Beatrice,”
Dans des terrains cendreux, calcinés, sans verdure,
Comme je me plaignais un jour à la nature,
Et que de ma pensée, en vaguant au hasard,
J’aiguisais lentement sur mon coeur le poignard,
Je vis en plein midi descendre sur ma tête
Un nuage funèbre et gros d’une tempête,
Qui portait un troupeau de démons vicieux,
Semblables à des nains cruels et curieux.
“Through ashen fields, burnt to a cinder, where no green thing grew, one day I lamented…”
–I had chanced upon an exhibition of work by Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, and Sebastião Salgado, three artists deeply affected by World War II. I felt close to these men in the presence of their portrayal of the terrible weight of war and the raw emotions called up in the aftermath. We have a generational kinship, Kiefer and Salgado are my own age. After my father died in the invasion of France in 1944, and while growing up in Montana, I saw our own aftermaths and ruins in the ghostly smelters and abandoned mines of Butte and Anaconda. The smoothe concrete and marble monuments that were erected in my local cemetery and public parks seemed to me feeble responses to the terrible price paid for that war. Now, seventy years after Omaha Beach, I am again a witness, pursuing my work in the archives of mining and banking – appropriating images and building my own memorials. LIBER IGNIS is the fifth volume of an ongoing series of literary explorations utilizing appropriated photographs as evidence and documenting man’s battle against nature in the American West. The earlier volumes include: Hard Words I and II; Nature Morte; and The Lost Journals of Sacajewea.
LIBER IGNIS consists of six .033” lead sheets printed at Magnolia Editions on a UV cured acrylic flatbed press interleaved with laminated felt and Evolon split microfiber sheets dyed black and printed from polymer plates on the Hacker Test Press at Peter Koch Printers. The binding is constructed with soldered copper tubing and linen thread. The text was composed in Fell Roman and Italic with Rockwell for titling. Box construction executed by John DeMerritt Bookbinding, lettering hand-painted by Christopher Stinehour.
Book; 22 pp. 18 x 12 inches   25 copies.