you must have seen Ethan Frome
Edith Wharton’s short intense novel, is a story told within a story and as the story unfolds we learn the circumstances of one man’s sorrowful existence. My distilled version of the text, intensifies the rhythm set down by the author, but now only permits the reader tiny glimpses of the ongoing drama, which are accompanied by continuous, repetitive, references to Ethan Frome. I wanted to see if the emotional weight of the original, could be preserved if only the thoughts, feelings and actions of this one central character were available.
My version of Wharton's novel, exists in a variety of forms and publications, and with the assistance of an Arts Council of England project award, I was able to spend time exploring how best to activate the text for the reader or viewer. A major component of the project has been to typeset and print a version of my text on an Albion press at the Museum of Technology in Cambridge, this has been bound in leather and foil blocked and now exists an an almost sculptural homage to Wharton’s novel. I wanted to counter my reduction of the text, by elaborately hand crafting this oversized book which has a single page for every instance of the character’s name as it appears in the novel.
Various elements of the project have been exhibited in a variety of settings including 11 collectable editions, where the covers have been foil blocked with additional titles derived from my version of the text, these all relate to Ethan and the space of the house in the novel and were created for 'Recollect' a show about space and memory, Wysing Arts Contemporary: 2012.
Other exhibitions and events were: An Evening in Process, a reading at XMarx the Bökship 2012; ‘There Will be Words’ G39 Gallery Cardiff; ‘there will be words’ 2013 'Art, Language, Location' Cambridge, ‘you must have seen Ethan Frome’ 2013.
I have produced a paperback book in the same format published through AND Public this is produced through print on demand services, but each book has a unique dust cover carrying one of 260 lines of the text as a title. So the run will be limited to 260 books.
I first produced this version of Edith Wharton's novella as the outcome of a Wysing Arts Centre Escalator Retreat, on the theme of print and production, where the outcome was to be a publication. The resulting publication A Mock Up, Ways of Working the text is displayed across just four pages and sits as a book within a book.
Ways of Working is a book series published by Wysing Arts Centre and Escalator Visual Arts in collaboration with Publish and Be Damned and Unrealised Projects. Contributions by AND Publishing, Katie Barrington, Owen Chapman and Christian Tilt, Gareth Bell-Jones, Jackie Chettur, Samantha Epps, Louisa Hendrikien Martin, Lucy Pawlak, Christina Millare, Charlotte A Morgan, Anna Pickering, Aymee Smith, Cally Spooner, Eleanor Vonne Brown, Sacha R.A. Waldron