By Dawn Kim
Printed Matter Inc., New York, NY, 2015
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in
Binding: Perfect-bound with translucent slip cover
Color: Full color cover and interior
This beautifully designed and undeniably strange artist book by Dawn Kim, printed in a small edition, seems like it unfairly slipped under the radar. It’s a quirky work about a quirky subject: religious tracts. Rather than merely collect and reprint tracts as is—which is understandably tempting given their striking design—Kim carefully removes the text from the tract covers and shifts the focus to the imagery for the bulk of the book. Different tracts are presented in visual and thematic conversations with one another and often set against background images pulled from other religious materials. For anyone who finds these pesky printed papers interesting, this book is a meaningful contribution to discussions of the form and how tracts function in the world.
From the publisher:
“The New York Testament of our Lord and Savior” is a collection of religious tracts found in the New York City subway system. With each tract’s text removed, the aesthetic decisions made by missionaries are revealed as they undertake the immense task of condensing their whole religion into a pamphlet. The pages are covered with scanned images and collaged photographs, with an extremely informational appendix that walks through the concepts and ideologies.