Daniel E. Kelm. American, 1951–
“Voice of Mars” text by Taz Sibley. Acrylic, starch paste, silkscreen, offset, and letterpress on various papers with wire edge binding enclosed in a Japanese bookcloth-covered paperboard box with chrome-steel ball bearing, sand cast iron canister ball, and iron-nickel meteorite. Produced with the assistance of Greta D. Sibley, Kylin Lee, Meg Sanders, Michael Richardson, Amy Grigg, Barry Spence, J Doster, and other mechanics at the Wide Awake Garage. Edition copy 1/15: Courtesy of Daniel E. Kelm. Edition copy 12/15: Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College. Purchased with the fund established in memory of Elizabeth McConnell (class of 1918) and Anne L. Bohning (class of 1915). Video by Kevin Derose and Jeff Derose, One Match Films.

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Many of Daniel Kelm’s most recent editioned works, such as Mars, began as one-of-a-kind prototypes. The long gestation of bookworks such as this allows layers of symbolism and meaning to build over the years, forming intricate connections between form, imagery, and materials. The accordion book structure bearing images of the god Mars, as well as the phrases “God of War” and the two names of the god (the Greek “Ares” and Roman “Mars”), can be assembled into a three-dimensional dodecahedron shape by pinning the sides together. Accompanying the book is a narrative that lays out the story behind and inspirations for the work’s creation, as well as a text, “The Voice of Mars,” which allows this figure of chaos and destruction to speak directly to the audience.

In addition to sheltering these books, the container holds three metal objects that Kelm calls the “three faces of Mars:” a Civil War-era canister ball representing Mars’s militaristic character; a chrome-steel ball bearing relating to the god’s scientific properties; and an iron nickel meteorite symbolizing the celestial realm.

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