Monday, November 10, 2008

Newcity review of "Signs of the Apocalypse / Rapture"

Read the review by Jason Foumberg of Newcity Art below:

You can tell that we’re comfortable with the end of times when the subject gets its own coffee-table book. Front Forty Press has curated, designed and published a hardcover tome featuring artwork from over sixty artists and including two music CDs. The book is divided into the destruction of the world—Apocalypse—and the ethereal bliss that comes after—Rapture. Doomsday is depicted in horror vacui illustrations where debris swells into suffocating masses in work by Andrew Schoultz, Todd Arsenault, Mark Chariker and Joe Vaux, and dystopic landscapes pictured by Jean-Pierre Roy, David Opdyke, Lora Fosberg and Suzy Poling. Rapture, on the other hand, is characterized by Julie Mehretu’s ambient colorscapes, Bill Viola’s weightless dreams, and Doug & Mike Starn’s patchwork vision of Buddha. The Apocalypse CD contains tracks of sustained ambient noise, whereas Rapture is, by comparison, a harmonic savior.

The first essay in the book, by artist Christopher Bucklow, explains the apocalypse as a religious event, but it’s telling that in his introduction, the book’s publisher Doug Fogelson writes, “With the future ever upon us we are at a shameful state of affairs. There are so many real concerns facing humanity right now”—yet the exact date of “right now” is never given. The end of times is a fear adaptable to any time in human history; it is, in essence, timeless. Fogelson is hopeful, though. By getting acquainted with the “signs” of the end, he says, we’ll be able to tune in to the problems, and possibly the solutions.

Still, the broad array of artwork collected in the book is a feast for the eyes. I asked Fogelson if there’s anything odd about enjoying the look of such dark subject matter. “There’s a lot of beauty in the chaos,” he replied. With co-curator Ryanne Baynham, Fogelson created the collector’s edition for the end of times. Sonotheque will host a release party for the book on November 20, and a related exhibition is scheduled at the Hyde Park Art Center in July, 2009. $65 from Front Forty Press.

Published October 27 on

F40's recent activity

Front 40 has been keeping busy as we spread out our books at events around the country. In October, we were included in the Chicago Publishers Gallery at the Cultural Center. It was great to see and to discover new publications in our own backyard. There were about 1500 books from 50 area book publishers and 75 periodical publishers–Chicago is holding it down!

We also made it out to Champaign/Urbana for The Next Panel: Illinois Small Press Comic Expo, hosted by our good friends, John Jennings and Damian Duffy. Doug was there to represent for our graphic novel The Hole: Consumer Culture along with other Front Forty publications. The expo commemorated the opening of historic comic arts exhibition “Out of Sequence: Underrepresented Voices in American Comics,” co-curated by Jennings and Duffy. The show is on view at the Krannert Art Museum Oct. 24 through Jan. 4.

Next, Front 40 will be represented at FotoWeek DC 2008. It runs from November 15 to 22 in the nation's capital. Fellow participants include: National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, Epson, the Philips Collection and the Smithsonian Institution. We are very excited to be a part of the diverse group of professionals celebrating the photographic medium at this premier event.