Art is an important, but not always emphasized part of the Libertarian Labyrinth project—and has been since the beginning. In the Galleries you can find images from versions of the archive going back to some of its earliest forms. In the current version of the collection, the digital collages serve as a place to share bits of the fruits of research, beyond the realm of texts and translations, but also as glimpses of the “lost continent” of the anarchist past as it appears to me.
The Libertarian Labyrinth aesthetic has always been connected to that of my various publishing projects, with the influence becoming an active, two-way process in the days when Corvus Editions was as much a part of the reused materials movement as it was a part of the anarchist small press scene.
As the book and craft fairs became scarcer, I started thinking about short-run and print-on-demand book publishing as a way to adapt. But that shift called for a bit more care and know-how in the realm of design than either the Libertarian Labyrinth or the very DIY versions of Corvus Editions—so I got to work translating the existing style into something suitable to larger, higher-resolution canvases and less intimate commercial settings.
I expected that I would end up with books waiting for covers, that the content of the new projects would come together much more quickly than the form, but the pandemic intervened, making both interlibrary loan and research travel impossible. At the same time, there were a lot of incentives to assemble the digital design tools and assets I lacked. So I actually ended up focusing on the artistic side of things, without much outlet for the results.
I’m still trying to decide, what, if anything, I should be doing with the new work, besides decorating the website and, hopefully soon, a new line of Corvus Editions. But as I have been doing research on the options for short-run production of various items, it struck me that one idea—an amusing idea, at least, if not exactly the one I’ve been looking for—would be to test the waters on one of the real print-on-demand sites, where I could not only test a variety of styles of art, but also a range of possible products considerably broader than I would ever explore otherwise.
So I’ve loaded some designs on Redbubble, where sometimes the choices are as absurd as they are entertaining:
I’m going to feature a few of the items in a new series here: partly as an advertisement and partly as a way to share some of the elements I’ve created or assembled to make the new compositions. First in the series is “Emile Henry — Trial Declaration:”
I had already completed a collage built around Henry’s mugshot for the “Rogues” series (below), but that was done with images scavenged from the internet, which limited the size of the piece to one suitable for display on the web, but certainly not on a shower curtain—or even a high-resolution greeting card. In order to adapt the material to much larger canvases, it was necessary to shift from raster to vector images and to rely on scalable elements for the remainder of the composition. (The simplified image below is a png file, but at a resolution where it could easily be converted to a scalable type. Feel free to make use of it if it is indeed useful.)
The work was assembled in the Affinity Publisher, which is already a fairly powerful tool, using the built-in StudioLink to access tools from Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer during the process. The text is from the “Déclaration d’Émile Henry à son procès” and includes the end of Henry’s explanation for the attentat outside the Carmaux Mining Company in the Rue des Bons-enfants. (Links to the complete French text and an English translation are in the links.) That places this project somewhere between
“There is no ethical consumption under capitalism.”
“There are no innocent bourgeois.”
Make of that what you will. I’m just going to make things that please me and see if they please anyone else.