Centennial Fever

A few decades back, I read a book called Archive Fever by Jacques Derrida. Since then, I've been haunted by the archive that presents as a public entity (the library), even though it is truly a place for deeply subjective frameworks where history coalesces. As a designer, this conundrum weighs heavily on my conscience as I navigate through the concept and design development of new projects. It's in this tenor (and temper) that I'm excited to share our newest book hot-off-the-cargo-ship, Nineteen Nineteen, from The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. This book is so adeptly written, striking a perfect balance between public record and personal his- and her-stories, that it was just a total pleasure to design.

Nineteen Nineteen
Co-curated and -edited by Jennifer A. Watts (Curator of Photography and Visual Culture) and James Glisson (Interim Chief Curator of American Art)

If you receive this newsletter in any regularity, then you know this is not the first centennial publication to come out of this studio in the past few years. Recently, Content Object completed the very ambitious project, Past/Forward: The LA Phil at 100 which accompanied a yearlong rollout of programming at The Phil and throughout Los Angeles. Past/Forward has also been recognized by four national awards (see below).

Our new centennial for The Huntington follows with equal bravado, texture, and, most of all, curatorial oomph. The Huntington’s exhibition, and publication, Nineteen Nineteen takes a deep plunge into 1919, the year their deed was signed and the library went public. Using founder Henry Huntington’s carefully archived receipts, daily journals, and other clues, the curators examine the Huntington's acquisitions that year. Revealing a better understanding of the decisions behind these purchases, a second story is woven through to shape the book. That story asks what was happening locally and globally at the time. Nationally, Suffragettes were demanding their right to vote and Red Summer unleashed months of horrific violence. And as Henry Huntington was developing the railway tracks that would draw out the Los Angeles region as we know it, labor unrest and unionism were rocking the southland.

This allegory is framed by five sections: Fight, Return, Map, Move, and Build. Keywords introduce each section and its context, accompanied by reproductions of the nearly 275 objects in the exhibition. Additionally, each section includes an insert that looks into the personal lives of Henry and Arabella. They lived and worked side by side, albeit non-traditional life paths, until the end of their lives. Now they rest in peace together on the grounds of the Huntington Gardens.

Nineteen Nineteen, the exhibition, opens September 21st at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marion, California.

Below are some images from the book, some good news, and forthcoming titles.

Best wishes,
Kimberly Varella

Art direction and design by Kimberly Varella, Content Object; edited and written by James Glisson and Jennifer A. Watts; project management and copyediting by Jean Patterson; editorial and photo assistance by Lindsey Hansen; proofreading by Ann Lucke; principal photography by John Sullivan and Manuel Flores, Imaging Services; photo essay and select photography by Ian Byers-Gamber; color management by Echelon Color; and printing and binding management by Permanent Printing Limited, Hong Kong.

Publisher: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Distribution: Angel City Press
ISBN: 978-0-87328-268-0
Dimensions: 7.325 x 10 inches


Past/Forward: LA Phil at 100

We are so insanely honored to be recognized by the following organizations: ADC: Merit in Publication Design; AIGA & Design Observer: 50 Books Winner; Communication Arts (CA) Design Annual: Books; and Independent Publishers Book Awards (IPPY): Gold, Category “West-Pacific – Best Regional Non-Fiction”

Past/Forward: The LA Phil at 100 was designed with Jessica Fleischmann of stillroom.

Recently Released

Cauleen Smith: Take it Or Leave it
Curated and edited by Anthony Elms, The ICA at the University of Pennsylvania

Through films, objects, and installation, Give It or Leave It offers an emotional axis by which to navigate four distinct universes: Alice Coltrane and her ashram, a 1966 photoshoot by Bill Ray at Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, Noah Purifoy and his desert assemblages, and black spiritualist Rebecca Cox Jackson and her Shaker community. These locations, while not technically utopian societies, embody sites of historical speculation and radical generosity between artist and community. In reimagining a future through this mix, Smith casts a world that is black, feminist, spiritual, and unabashedly alive. (from ICA Philly)

Designed by Content Object, Kimberly Varella
Edited by Anthony Elms and publication management by Meg Onli
Texts by Anthony Elms, Rhea Anastas, Rodney McMillian, and Cauleen Smith
Case Bound Hardcover, 160 pages
Publisher: Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania
ISBN: 978-0-88454-146-2
Dimensions: 6.5 x 9 inches
Separations: Echelon Color
Printing: Verona Libri, Italy

Eddo Stern: Games After Life
Beall Center for Art + Technology, UC Irvine

Tel Aviv born artist and developer (friend and colleague) Eddo Stern is known for creating experimental video games, game art, and machinima-based works. Games After Life features over ten years of individual projects and collaborations, or games. Though they exist in the digital realm, they explore socio-political realities in a language unique to Stern—perfectly primed for these now analog paper leafs.

Designed by Content Object, Kimberly Varella with Becca Lofchie
Softcover with French folds: 72 pages
Publisher: Beall Center for Art + Technology, University of California, Irvine 
ISBN: 978-0-578-47998-9
Dimensions: 8.25 x 11 inches
Printing: Verona Libri, Italy

Upcoming Titles

Philip K. Smith III: 10 Columns, 2019
Bridge Projects

Life and the Power of Photography, 2020
Princeton University Museum of Art

Todd Gray: Euclidean Gris Gris, 2020
Pomona College Museum of Art

Alison Saar, 2020
Pomona College Museum of Art

Nayland Blake: No Wrong Holes, 2020

Gerald Clarke: Falling Rock, 2020
Palm Springs Museum of Art