C/O—Year End—2021
Lessons of the Hour and others

An amazing roster of titles came through Content Object in 2021, including:

  1. Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour, Frederick Douglass (Isaac Julien Lab)
  2. Hollywood Bowl: The First 100 Years (The LA Phil)
  3. Yesterday we said tomorrow (Prospect 5)
  4. Sadie Barnette: Legacy & Legend (Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College)
  5. Otherwise/Revival (Bridge Projects)
    (See below for details on each project)

We are so grateful to our collaborators which include [in no particular order] artists, curators, colorists, printers, binders, writers, editors, funders, educators, typographers, paper makers, glue makers, ship captains, courier drivers—and the list goes on!

Love for books continues, even in the most difficult of times. Thank you all for making 2021 such a rich year.

Kimberly Varella (Content Object)

Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour, Frederick Douglass
Isaac Julien Studio, Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, and Delmonico Books • D.A.P.

"Lessons of the Hour is a poetic meditation on the life and times of Frederick Douglass, the ten-screen film installation proposes a contemplative journey into Douglass' zeitgeist and its relationship to contemporaneity. The film includes excerpts of Douglass' most arresting speeches and allusions to his private and public milieus." (Isaac Julien Studio)

This lush and ambitious 272 page volume pays homage to the lessons of Frederick Douglass as interpreted by Isaac Julien. As an object, it captures the dual atmospheres of historical importance and modern context from cover to cover: tipped-in portraits of Douglass and the actor that plays him (Ray Fearon) are centered between the title, set in a classic treatment of Didot borrowed from the masthead of Douglass' antislavery newspaper, The North Star (1847) and Martin (Vocal Type), drawn from protest signage used in the Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968. The book, like the artwork, weaves in and out of historical and contemporary contexts including richly illustrated essays, documentation of the installation at various venues, extended visual and textural experiences, and recurring object lessons in photography and representation.

This book is accompanied by incredible scholarship by Kass Banning and Warren Crichlow, Celeste-Marie Bernier, Jonathan P. Binstock, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Paul Gilroy, Cora Gilroy-Ware, Jennifer A. González, John G. Hanhardt, Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., Susan Solt, Vron Ware, and Deborah Willis.

Hollywood Bowl: The First 100 Years
Los Angeles Philharmonic Association; Written by Derek Traub and edited by Julia Ward and Robin Rauzi

The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hollywood Bowl commissioned a publication in celebration of the iconic venue’s 100th anniversary (original D.O.B. 1921). In a nod to the Bowl’s earlier Streamline Moderne incarnation, the cover showcases a customized mashup of Futura (used for The Bowl’s brand, Paul Renner) and Bifur (Adolphe Mouron Cassandre) in a holographic foil treatment. Beneath the jacket, the Bodonian binding technique used exposes the spines of the signatures, giving a “behind-the-scenes” look into the construction of the book.

Through the course of ten chapters, each focussing on a roughly chronological segment of the past, a story is woven from disparate threads of music, social causes, spectacle, and celebrity. The structure of the book alternates between the generously illustrated text and extended sections of images only, where documentary photography is juxtaposed with printed ephemera. Because each image section uses an intense color to backdrop the images, the structure of the book is legible just by looking at the fore-edge.

The extensive research results in a beautiful anachronistic cacophony that only such a history can tell. The Bowl will be celebrating its belated birthday in 2022—so, Angelenos, keep an eye out for some exciting events!

Yesterday we said tomorrow
Prosepct New Orleans and Rizzoli Electa; Edited by Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi

Prospect New Orleans is a citywide contemporary art triennial that was conceived in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, presenting site-specific artworks by local, national, and international artists that ask for a reconsideration of the past through social and political considerations of the present. The accompanying catalog—a rich collection of contributions from curators, poets, artists, and cultural critics—considers several key themes that animate the ambitious artist projects: history and haunting; landscape and the natural world; performance, ritual, and the public sphere; and intimacy, life, and death. The moody use of gold and black takes on this haunting in an effervescent tingle of a more hopeful and better future. On view until January 23, 2022.

Sadie Barnette: Legacy & Legend
Benton College of Art at Pomona College and Pitzer College Art Galleries

The Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College and the Pitzer College Art Galleries partnered in 2021 to host a dual exhibition of the artist Sadie Barnette’s new work—showing a range of pieces, from life-size recreation of a living room resurfaced in glittering pink at Pitzer to a series of large scale drawings at the Benton, hyper-enlarged recreations from a recently discovered 500-page FBI dossier on her father, Rodney Barnette, a lifelong activist and founder of the Compton chapter of the Black Panther Party.

The accompanying publication places that historical method at the forefront, using paper changes to separate the institutional essays, exhibition documentation, and the personal essays written by Barnette herself—accompanied by family photography, printed ephemera, and screenshots from the artist's Instagram feed—further blurring the lines between the personal and political. In the center of the book, a facsimile of the Eaglecreek Saloon zine (originally produced by Sadie Barnette in 2019) is reproduced at scale as a trimmed insert, recalling DIY modes of distribution used by community activists.

Bridge Projects

This publication accompanied Otherwise/Revival, a group exhibition that visualizes the impact of the historic Black church—specifically the Black Pentecostal movement—on contemporary artists. Inspiration for the exhibition is drawn from reflecting on the event of the Azusa Street Revival, and the publication itself borrows from traditional hymnals in it’s materiality and form. Sculptures, paintings, video, and performances celebrate the significance of music, praise, breath, and community. Exhibited artists reflect on their traditions, heritages, passions, and talents to cultivate a space where art thrives and expresses a unifying language for all. Included in the book are images and short essays for each of the participating artists, music and lyrics for hymns chosen by each artist, and longer essays by Ashon T. Crawley and Jasmine McNeal.

Winners of 2021 Book Competitions

Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making, 1948–1960 was recognized in both Book and Cover categories of the AIGA's 50 Books | 50 Covers Competition. Additionally, it made an Honorable Mention for the AAM Publication Design Competition. To learn more about this book, please visit our website.

Alia Ali: Project Series 53 was recognized in both Book and Cover categories of the AIGA's 50 Books | 50 Covers Competition. To learn more about this book, please visit our website.

Congratulations to everyone involved; these books would not exist without you!


We are all guests here. (Bridge Projects)
Sam Gilliam: Moving West Again (David Kordansky Gallery)
by Alison Knowles: A Retrospective, 1960–2022 (BAMFA)
Pedro Almodóvar: Installation (The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures)
Tala Madani (MOCA)
Just Above Midtown:1974 to the Present (MoMA)
Nayland Blake: No Wrong Holes (ICA LA)

Image credits: Selected books designed by Content Object in 2021. Book photography by Ian Byers-Gamber. Courtesy Content Object.