Rachel Rose’s artist’s book Enclosure brings together the collaged and annotated script pages from her film of the same name with a suite of gravures made especially for this volume. The film Enclosure tells a tale of alchemists and scammers operating in seventeenth-century England during the pre-industrial era when common land, previously shared by entire communities for farming, grazing, and hunting, was being privatized, displacing huge numbers of citizens from their subsistence livelihood and forcing them into formal waged labor. This book presents a collection of the wildly heterogeneous images that inspired Rose before, during, and after the making of the film, including paintings by Jean-Francois Millet and John Ruskin, a concetto spaziale by Lucio Fontana, personal snapshots of glass lantern slides from the Turin cinema museum, the album cover for Talk Talk’s The Spirit of Eden, and a cadavre exquis by Breton, Tanguy, and other Surrealist artists. These research images, dotted with blue painter’s tape, appear around the margins of Rose’s script pages, which are replicated at actual size and are marked with various jottings related to daily matters on set. Rose underscored connections between the images and the script with lines printed in a red silk-screen overlay, which point to relevant passages or ideas in the text, sometimes adding scrawled commentary. The pictures do not always have a one-to-one relationship with the script, however—while some were used as a direct inspiration for the production design, others appear as supplementary inspirations, the source of a mood, color, or fleeting idea that occurred in the film’s conception.
The suite of seven gravures—which Rose created using a digital illustration app on a tablet—weaves material from sources as disparate as an automatic drawing by André Masson, a page from the sketchbook of the British landscape artist Samuel Palmer, and a 1940 Walt Disney study for Pinocchio. Heavily influenced by Max Ernst’s Surrealist gravures in his renowned graphic novel Une semaine de bonté, Rose stitched together her own strange and inventive assemblies through superimposition, juxtaposition, and re-scaling of the appropriated source images, meticulously excising the original backgrounds with a stylus till only the drawn lines remained, and then photo-engraving the image files onto each printing plate. The resulting compositions distill the imaginings of other artists into marvelously cryptic tableaux: a man battles with a large buck, while his lower half merges with the lush shoots and stems of an upside-down flower patch; a tree limb sprouts a tiger’s head; a torpedo ridden by a cartoon kitten looms above agrarian workers. Each print is organized around a particular theme, whether from the narrative of the film or from Rose’s personal experiences: the process of birth, parenthood, industrialization, and the experience of rural life, among others.
The book alternates between sections of script-collage spreads and single gravures that appear after a blank spread, inducing a rhythmic pause and offering a moment of rumination after the visual commotion of the script pages. Because of the one-to-one reproduction size of the script pages, Enclosure allows for detailed reading of the script and its hand-written notes; the consequent size and weight of the volume recalls the heft of antiquarian books of centuries past, and the debossed cover with a tipped-in drawing features three ribbon ties as closure, a nod to Marcel Broodthaers’s own book homage to Une semaine de bonté, which similarly has a three-tie closure. A custom font was developed for the title and author pages as well as the epigraph, which is taken from The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, a Rosicrucian text from the late seventeenth century, heavy with alchemical symbolism, whose allegorical descriptions of the landscape’s transformations through magic influenced Rose’s own interpretation of the reorganization of England’s common farmlands under the Enclosure Acts.
PPP Editions, 2021
Large folio, 19 x 16-1/2 inches; 106 pages, including forty-one script collages with autograph annotations, printed in four-color offset with added autograph notations in red silk-screen; seven original black-and-white gravures with added drypoint and burnishing printed on Hahnemühle German etching paper; gray paper over boards with black and white duotone drawing tipped onto de-bossed cover; three gray-cloth ribbon fasteners.
Edition of 18 + 3 hors commerce + 2 deluxe copies
Each book from the edition of 21 contains one original gravure with tissue guard as frontispiece; the remaining six are reproduced in duotone. The deluxe editions feature all seven original gravures with tissue guards. Each copy initialed under gravures and signed and numbered by the artist on the colophon.