Project: Admonitions useful to a spiritual life, for Sibley House

Admonitions useful to a spiritual life

An investigation into the nature of religious art

The first part of formal experiment. We were interested in how the best religious art seems to be set in the artist’s world – Caravaggio, for example, seems to have cast his Supper at Emmaus from denizens of his local tavern. It is only in later, didactic religious painting that the worlds of flesh and spirit are separated by glowing light and ambiguous ethnic origin.

So we wondered what might happen if we posited a religious text – in this case, excerpts from Thomas á Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, a fifteenth-century self-help book for monks – against images drawn from the Cold War, the psychological landscape of our youth. Below is the result. Inconclusive, but perhaps interesting.

Five Admonitions are planned; two have been printed so far: The means to get peace, and of desire to profit in virtues; and Of bearing other men’s faults.

No. 11: The means to get peace, and of desire to profit in virtues

The Imitation of Christ, though widely cited by followers as a seminal work in Christian philosophy, is actually a practical manual for how to get along in a 16th century monastery, which – to use the text as an example – must have been as rife with politics as any corporation. This passage more or less exhorts monks to mind their own business.

1/11

Broadsheet

The book artist suffers because books require someone to open them, and sometimes that’s too much trouble. So we wanted this piece to function as a poster as well. Using an imposition technique known as a “work and roll,” we were able to get the entire book on one side of a 26 × 40-inch press sheet. As a poster, the book’s content is abstracted (though the page numbers are there); bound as an octavo (as shown below), the poster’s content is abstracted. Changes made to one form would ripple through the other.

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2/11

Octavo

1,000 impressions were made; halfway through the run, we replaced the cover stock (used for the broadsheets above) with text stock, which would be ripped down and sewn into 16-page book, covered with a letterpressed dustjacket. Typography was kept as neutral as possible: one weight of Berthold AG Old Face.

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3/11

Octavo: Interior of dust jacket, main title
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4/11

Octavo: pp. 02–03
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5/11

Octavo: pp. 04–05
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6/11

Octavo: pp. 06–07
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7/11

Octavo: pp. 08–09
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8/11

Octavo: pp. 10–11
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9/11

Octavo: pp. 12–13
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10/11

Octavo: pp. 14–15
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11/11

Octavo: Inside back cover
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No. 16: Of bearing other men’s faults

Here, Kempis offers some tips on how to get along in community; a similar sentiment as in No. 11, but with an emphasis on getting your own house in order before you start calling out others.

1/11

Broadsheet
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2/11

Octavo
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3/11

Octavo: Inside front cover
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4/11

Octavo: pp. 02–03
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5/11

Octavo: pp. 04–05
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6/11

Octavo: pp. 06–07
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7/11

Octavo: pp. 08–09
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8/11

Octavo: pp. 10–11
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9/11

Octavo: pp. 12–13
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10/11

Octavo: pp. 14–15
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11/11

Octavo: Inside back cover
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