Artist Book Spotlight: Mutterfarbe by Erin Mickelson and Brandi Katherine Herrera
Poetic and Visual Experiments with Goethe’s Zur Farbenlehre
Mutterfarbe is a work of experimental text + visual translations and poems by Brandi Katherine Herrera. Using Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s seminal work, Zur Farbenlehre (Theory of Colors, 1810) as a primary source. Working during a residency in Germany, Herrera translated sections of the text from German to English for the first time since Charles Eastlake’s 1840 edition. Here, the language of color is transformed in order to provide fresh perspective on an archaic text, and allow Goethe’s words to re-imagine themselves within a more contemporary conversation.
This limited edition artist book was designed and produced by Broken Cloud Press (Santa Fe, NM), the imprint of artist Erin Mickelson. The book is comprised of separately bound sections, each a standalone piece, (measuring approximately 5.5 x 5.5 inches each) enclosed in an archival box:
• The first section, Natürlicher (vis-à-vis land, animal), is comprised of color swatches and accompanying poems (based on colors sourced from the author’s environment) printed on loose pages held together in a folio.
• The second section, Ursprünglicher (origins, experiments), is comprised of erasure poems & illustrations (“visual translations” of Goethe’s original illustrations), and includes drum leaf binding and blind impressions.
• The third section, Farbe Gespräch (speaking of color), is an imagined text convo with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe using contemporary language & technology, while watching Jodorowsky’s iconic surrealist film The Holy Mountain and discussing the use of color therein. This section includes leporello binding and pop-up elements.
• The book’s back matter (including translator’s note & color source photos, scans of the original erasures, and the translation) is bound in three pamphlet stitched books.
This project recently debuted as an installation at 23 Sandy Gallery, which included not only the book, but also collaborative sound and video components.