Long Dong Silver
and Le petit prince
Fred McSherry & Stéphane Danis
A first time collaboration between artist Fred McSherry and publisher Stéphane Danis, Charles Baudelaire Long Dong Silver and Le petit prince is the most recent issue of Le muse secret, publishers of limited edition artists books and multiples exploring the taboo themes of sex, politics and religion. Modeled on the "pillow book", an early Asian diary form, this volume combines images and texts "borrowed" from high and popular cultural sources to test the presumed autonomy of moral, economic and aesthetic value systems.
Drawing inspiration from the Asian ideogram, Charles Baudelaire Long Dong Silver and Le petit prince complicates the relationship between content and form. The bookwork is made using the remnants of other printed matter and selective found materials. Simultaneously it is about the way in which the ideas and material practices of diverse cultural phenomena converge. Bound in black linoleum tile, the finely textured pages of this publication blend cotton pulp with tinsel, shredded money, fragments of pages from the storybook Le petit prince and images downloaded from the Long Dong Silver Web site. Text fragments are interwoven and embossed into the handmade paper to literalize the idea of the concrete poem. Taking issue with the notion of critical distance, excerpts from Charles Baudelaires Mon coeur mis á nu are merged with ad copy stolen from the pages of a contemporary soft-core pornographic magazine. In his original story, Baudelaire used the binarism of naked/nude as an emblem of the hypocrisy of a bourgeois culture that separated private and public life. His own implication as a critic within this conflicted sphere was highly ambivalent. In this incarnation, the relationship between the critic, his objects and metaphors is more properly circumscribed.
The "narrative" of Charles Baudelaire Long Dong Silver and Le petit prince is concerned with the interdependence of oppositional forms. Simultaneously rarified and stubbornly banal, the books very materiality directs its critical force. Form and content, image and text, high culture and low: all mutually dependent terms. As staged seductions give way to real desires, so too do the worlds of art and commerce converge.
Fred McSherry is a multi-media artist who has worked with sculpture, performance, video, installation and bookwork forms. Represented in numerous private and public collections, McSherry has exhibited his own work in solo and group exhibitions in diverse museums, galleries and cultural institutions in Canada and the USA. Over the past seven years McSherry has been building The Virtual Library, a collection of seventy one-of-a-kind artists books that use the same techniques as those employed in Charles Baudelaire Long Dong Silver and Le petit prince to explore the role of the book in the production of popular knowledge.
An art collector, art historian, teacher and book designer, Stéphane Danis is the publisher of Editions S. Danis and Le muse secret, producers of limited edition artists books and multiples. Represented in numerous private and public collections, Daniss books have been exhibited in libraries and museums across North America. He has published Reliqui with Carlos Quiroz (1996), Dix muse secrets (1996) and La Dchirure with Jacques Lamoureux (1993), and Curio with Irene Whittome (1994).
Charles Baudelaire Long Dong Silver and Le petit prince in the collections of:
• The National Library of Canada, Ottawa
• Le Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec, Montréal, Québec
• William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles,
• The Museum of Modern Art Library, Artists Book Collection, New York City,
• The New York City Public Library, New York City,
• E.P. Taylor Research Library & Archives, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto,
• Bruce Peel Special Collections Library, University of Alberta, Edmonton,
• The National Gallery of Canada Library, Artists Book Collection, Ottawa, Ontario,
• Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, New York