December 1992

Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1992 11.8 x 9cm, 36pp plus grey boards. An artist's book with descriptions of unrealised sculptural works designed to be placed in a garden (arcadia).
For instance:
The word FRAGILE in Roman letters, on a formal stone placed upright by the foot of a birch tree."

A birch has bark that is very easily removed - and even peels from weathering - hence it may be regarded as fragile. The Roman civilisation lasted for centuries but self-destructed very quickly in c. 480 AD. - and may also despite its long history be also regarded as fragile due to its own internal contradictions.
One of 250 such books printed as Christmas gifts by the Press. VG+.

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Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1992
23.5 x 6.5cm, 4pp. Folding card with a drawing of old fashioned bee hives by Gary Hincks on the front with Finlay's text which is repurposing Pindar's classical reference to the "temple of the bees". The humming of the insects is compared to religious singing. VG+

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Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1992
7.6 x 8.5cm, 4pp card. A schematic drawing by Eva Maria Weinmayr of the Villa and its environs. A descRIption of the Villa, which is set in the German Wörlitzer Park, notes how the building has a son et lumiere event where a "volcano" - actually a "rock island" - would spill water down to the lake lit by lanterns to make the event seem like lava. VG+.

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Paris: La Hune, November 1992
33.5 x 24 x 5.5cm, one part archival box with pasted on title label, content of eight folders containing original & reproduced photographs, maps, sketches, photographs, transcripts, and documents relating to the occupants of a destroyed house (bombed by the Allies on 3 February 1945 which killed most of the residents).
For an exhibition in Berlin entitled "Die Endlichkeit der Freiheit", Boltanski initially placed "a series of 12 black and white plaques each mounted on the facing walls, storey by storey, indicating the family name, profession, and period of residency of each tenant who had lived in the bombed out apartments."
At the same time in East Berlin, Boltanski exhibited a series of vitrines with archival documentation of the various families and the building (the research here should be credited to art student, Christiane Büchner and Andreas Fischer). Interestingly during the research Boltanski and his assistants discovered that prior to 1942, many of this obliterated building's inhabitants had been Jews, until they were evicted, and deported to concentration camps.
The folders have around 150 photographs, photocopies, offset and stencil reproductions, postcards, maps, and other facsimile items - the eight folders are:

Folder 1: La Maison Manquante/The Missing House 15, Grosse-Hamburger-Strasse, Sept. 1990. A text in French faces an original colour photograph of the installation with tissue guard.
Folder 2: Autour de la Maison Manquante
Folder 3: Ceux Qui Vivaient au 15, Grosse-Hamburger-Strasse, de 1930 à 1945
Folder 4: Madame Kalies
Folder 5: Kurt Porteset
Folder 6: Monsieur Schnapp
Folder 7: Le 3 Février 1945
Folder 8: Le Cahier de Quittances

This is one of the most difficult to find of later artist's books by Boltanski and certainly one of his most complex productions, the level of research and the requirement to recreate original documents in high quality reproduction must have taken a lot of effort.
As usual there is no moral commentary on the events or people included in the survey of the building, The fact that some residents were Jews is ignored other than mentioned although readers may feel some irony present here. The bomb was neutral in its effect - devastating but uncaring of past history or status. It is a simple record of what happened - and an imperfect record as all historical reconstitution must be
This is one of 100 signed and numbered copies (aside from 20 HC copies) on a label on the inside front cover of the archival box and is in VG+ condition, complete although the two original thick rubber bands that close the folder are missing. A wonderful production.

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Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1992
12.5 x 14.8cm, 4pp. Folding card with a drawing by Michael Harvey on the front and inside. The watering can has the text on it that is repeated inside the card so it can be read in full: "The mute dispenser of the vernal shower". The latter is an adaption of Thomas Gray’s 1769 "Sweet is the breath of vernal shower . . . The still small voice of gratitude" (‘Ode for Music’). The water from the watering-can is now a spring-time shower but without any sound of rain. Finlay may also be reminding the reader of the events of Arrosoir 1974 when Robespierre and his cohorts were removed overnight by his colleagues on the National Convention but that was July and perhaps not a spring cleansing shower - that is moot. VG+

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Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1992
11.5 x 11.2cm, 4pp. Folding card with a painting by Gary Hincks on the front of a woman wearing a republican rosette watering flowers. The original is a Kate Greenaway painting albeit Hincks has altered the imagery a little and the word Thermidor placed top left. Lilies grow behind her (a symbol of the French crown) and she is watering red roses. Arrosoir was the month when Robespierre and his cohorts were removed overnight by their colleagues on the National Convention and the revolutionary calendar month's name translates to watering-can. Thermidorian reaction led eventually to the re-establishment of the French monarchy but the replacement to Robespierre while not as virulent was still a committed revolutionary regime. The painting is a cute metaphor for the events of July 1794. VG+

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Edinburgh: Fruitmarket Gallery, 1992
21 x 15cm, 8pp (single folded sheet). The programme and small poster for a group exhibition of works by a range of artists including Finlay. While not being specific to concrete and visual poetry the events (which included talks, films and workshops as well as the exhibition) - a large number of those exhibited worked in that field.
Poiesis as we all know is a definition of poetry as "anything supremely harmonious or satisfying" - which to be fair describes much of Finlay's work and motivation and is almost a definition of neo-classicism. Minor wear at folds else VG..

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Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1992
8.1 x 6.8cm, 4pp green outer folder with a drawing by Gary Hincks. Internally a 8.1 x 6.8cm, 4pp sheet with a text telling a tale of a discussion of "the moral effects of the arts and sciences" after stopping at an avenue of chestnut trees.
The text is in two parts - one taken from Thomas A. Clark and the other referring to an essay by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
The title of the work refers to the attempted escape of the French king and queen while being held hostage during the first months of the French revolution - they were stopped on the way because a shop keeper recognised the King's striking (ie big nosed) visage from the coin of the realm and escorted back to the capital.
Together Finlay has created a new story of morals and escape from unthinking philosophies of behaviour.
This is one of a series of works which the Wild hawthorn Press denoted as "Poems in folders". VG+.

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Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1992
8.4 x 15.4cm, 4pp card. Two water colour paintings by Gary Hincks of a embroidered name tag for clothing with the name "Philippe Francoise Nazaire Fabre" and a signpost with the text "Fabre D'Eglantine".
Fabre D'Eglantine was the pen name of Philippe Francoise Nazaire Fabre, the revolutionary actor and poet. Close to Danton he was the president of the Cordeliers club and also member of the Jacobin Club. He went to the guillotine along with the rest of the Dantonists after his personal actions in accepting financial gain from the corrupt actions around the East India Company having given Robespierre an excuse to act against his opponents and his previous friend Danton.
The two paintings show Fabre's aristocratic roots and his later more revolutionary activities in their forms - one elaborate, the other rough and practical. Fabre was also the main writer of the French republican calendar.
VG+.

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Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1992
10.4 x 14.8cm, 2pp. A photograph by Ron Costley show a relief on a wall that has the sculpted word FiGLEAF over which leaves have been painted. In front of that the photograph shows more leaves but real this time. Hence the work about censorship is itself censored. Meta. VG+.
This example of the card has a short signed note in blue ink from Finlay to John Stathatos giving the latter Stuart Mill's address.

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Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1992
11.5 x 11.2cm, 4pp. Folding card with a drawing by Gary Hincks on the front of a ship in a storm. On the back Finlay lists the names of some of the RN "Flower" class corvette - of which the ship depicted is one. The unpredictable torrents it rides causing it to be a "wild" flower . VG+

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Little Sparta: Wild Hawthorn Press, 1992
70 x 82cm, full colour offset lithograph with a reproduced painting by Gary Hincks of various weeds and flowers - each named after a prominent woman of the French Revolution. Charlotte Corday, the heroine who murdered the evil Marat in his bath, is shown as a nettle and Marie-Antoinette as a lily. The work is subtitled as "after Anselm Kiefer" who produced a major sculptural installation of the same name with beds made out of lead for each woman.
One of only 250 issued. VG+ condition.

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