Friday, October 4, 2013

Jake and Dinos Chapman, THE END OF FUN

Two months off, but hope to get back into more regularly-occurring posts. With work picking up and my rare-book purchases slowing down (saving for an apartment!) it didn't seem right to seek out exceptional books with the same drive that I had earlier in this blog's history. To catch up:

The Booker Prize limped in and will be awarded on October 15th -- I've been trying to scale back my interest in this as the prize's importance/integrity/etc has changed drastically over the past handful of years. I did end up buying a very rare signed and numbered copy of Donal Ryan's The Spinning Heart, which I finished before the shortlist was announced and had enough time to drum up some unreasonably high bids on eBay (the book had no chance of even making the shortlist, people!).

In other news, I've discovered the world of rare book auction houses (as in physical, real-life auctions) and have been tracking some items with a few absentee bids this past moth. These houses often have shockingly low estimates, and even with a 20% buyer's premium one could walk away with some steals. (I kept quiet on this development so as not to spread the word and be outbid). I nearly had three signed Samuel Beckett books for around $300, but the lot was withdrawn about an hour before the sale. Bummer.

Finally, I was lost in Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge for the second-half of September and think it's one of the most personally-poignant books I've ever read. One's enjoyment of Bleeding Edge will entirely depend on who you were in 2001 in relation to technology. If you, like me, grew up as the internet grew up and passionately followed its developments, if you remember hotbot and geocities and putting quarters on the ledge of an arcade's Time Crisis 2 machine (with that foot pedal!) to signify that you wanted next game, this book's for you. And especially so if you're up on the fascinating world of the Dark Web... Bleeding Edge flows like literary TOR-encryption, and if you can fathom what I'm talking about, you should drop everything and read it.

So: back to rare books. To herald this return and signify the conclusion of my time off, I'd like to share with you my copy of Jake and Dinos Chapman's The End of Fun.

 This evil little book was designed by FUEL (of the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia fame) and showcases the Chapman Brothers's psychotically detailed visions of Hell. Nine large vitrines contain diorama-style  landscapes of madness and carnage in miniature (1:32 scale). Skeletons, mutant Nazis, dead bodies and heads on spikes fill these scenes like a twisted Where's Waldo book: there is endless amounts of detail to take in an marvel at. It's gross, sure, but there's so much to like about the work if you're into that sort of thing. 

Originally, these scenes were depicted in a different set of work from 1999 called "Hell". The nine vitrines were lost in the 2004 Momart fire, but were recreated by the artists (and retitled "Fucking Hell") in 2008. "The End of Fun" is a third incarnation (imagine re-making this thing three times!) and is currently in the Duerckheim Collection. The catalogue, published in conjunction with White Cube in the UK, features an essay by Will Self is in a limited edition of 1,200 copies. 100 copies were 'hand-burnt' and signed by both artists (a similar limitation was offered for 2008's Fucking Hell).

Currently reading:
Momo by Michael Ende

Currently listening to:
 CHVRCHES, "The Bones Of What You Believe In"

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