Poet Sally Ball and Czech linocut printmaker Jan Vičar began a collaboration in Fall 2015. Ball’s writing departs from an idea explored in Roy Scranton’s ecological lament Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, namely that our obsession with thriving (from a Norwegian root word that means grasp or—hold—) is intensifying our environmental crisis. The poem, HOLD, ranges over many topics: climate anxiety, corporate doublespeak, international migration, nuclear energy, the (in this context) counter-intuitive beauty of the world. Vičar has created a limited-edition hand-sewn book of about 60 pages measuring 24” x 18” (serious coffee table required—), in which the poem is laid out in hand-cut text alongside images inspired by or illustrative of the text. He has also made outtake floor-to-ceiling works that are part of this project. The prints and text have been exhibited in Austria, France, Germany, Spain, and Tokyo, but this is the first time the assembled book has been presented anywhere.
Sally Ball is the author of Hold Sway (forthcoming 2019), Wreck Me (2013), and Annus Mirabilis (2005), all from Barrow Street. She is an associate professor of English at Arizona State University and an associate director of Four Way Books. Her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Harvard Review, Scoundrel Time, Tin House, and elsewhere. She lives in Phoenix.
Jan Vičar studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. He has exhibited his work around the world—across Europe, in Japan, the United States, and South Africa; and it is held in collections including the National Gallery in Washington, DC. He has twice won Prague’s Print of the Year in the experimental category. “The characteristic feature of his work is represented by the combination of traditional techniques with less conventional, even experimental procedures.” Marcel Fišer, Czech art historian. He lives off the grid, outside of Telč in the Czech Republic.