wioletta lenczowska, winner, cover design contest no. 6

May 1st, 2011
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
http://venusfebriculosa.com/?paged=3">
Twitter
SHARE

Perhaps our cover design contest no.6: DSM-5/DSoM at 40, american psychiatric association/pink floyd [2013] was a bit, shall we say, open ended. In any event, there was a record low turnout (fewer than 40 entries!).  Still, if the thirty-odd designs hewed rather closely to relatively predictable images (prisms, rainbows, brains) there were nonetheless among them some well-executed and interesting covers. I especially liked the shattered prism of Moira Perez (Spain) and the light-absorbing prism of Tomasz Florczak (Poland).  Gary Gowans (UK) and Narayana Navarroza (Philippines) both opted for a new, top-down perspective, while the cover of Fionn Byrne (Canada) emphasizes the particular dimensions of diagnostics. Janusz Marciniak (Poland) found inspiration in a rainbow aura. Helena Raczynska-Pachut (Poland) and Przemyslaw Pachut (Poland) rounded out the sequence with their interpretations.  Lastly, I should note that a few people, at least, dispensed with expected themes altogether. I liked the rather clinical covers of  Mia Vucic (Croatia).

Still, it was Wioletta Lenczowska (Poland) whose precise and lovely covers seemed just right.

Row 1:

Moira Perez

Row 2:

Tomasz Florczak

Row 3:

Gary Gowans (l)

Narayana Navarroza (r)

Row 4:

Fionn Byrne (l)

Janusz Marciniak (r)

Row 5:

Helena Raczynska-Pachut (l)

Przemyslaw Pachut (r)

Row 6:

Mia Vucic

this way: covering/uncovering tadeusz borowski’s this way for the gas, ladies and gentlemen

April 13th, 2011
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
http://venusfebriculosa.com/?paged=3">
Twitter
SHARE

Hitler was a megalomaniacal artist intent on remaking the world, not only through murder on an unprecedented scale, but by destroying the ethical relationship between words and truth and images and reality. The Holocaust and Holocaust Denial were twins born in the same monstrous womb. In the twenty-first century, can we possibly recapture the Renaissance ideal that “the eye is the window of the soul”? How can we reconnect words and images to deconstruct Orwellian lies, numbing kitsch and totalitarian faux-art? Using Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen as a proof text,  Venus febriculosa has challenged some of today’s finest artists to reconceptualize the book cover as a way to reconnect words and images as a pathway to a human but horrifying truth. This Way for the Gas provides an interesting trigger for analysis and discussion on what might not be a new quest, but a challenge radically changed in the post-Holocaust era.

-Liebe Geft, Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance, 2011

In Auschwitz, the concentration camp that was Hitler’s factory of death, the murdering of several thousand people each day had to be extremely well organized. The Germans chose young men from among the prisoners for various office chores, especially couriers.   Their lives were prolonged for the moment, but they never knew for how long.

Tadeusz Borowski was one of them, and that unusual state of being suspended between life and death he described in stories right after the war, expressing incredulity that “man could conjure up such a fate for man.”

No one who survived Auschwitz dared to write:

“Between two throw-ins in a football game nine thousand people had been gassed.”

For that honesty and truthfulness he paid with his life.  Caught in the web of propaganda and put in the position of having to write lies about the communist future of Poland, he preferred to commit suicide.

-Andrzej Wajda, 2011

Venus febriculosa is thrilled to announce its first book! Edited by Marco Sonzogni and with contributions from Alicia Nitecki, Berel Lang, Simone Gigliotti, John Bertram (that’s me!), Dov Bing, Monica Tempian, and Giacomo Lichtner This Way is began with our Book Cover Contest #4. For more information visit This Way Project.

You can see some sample pages from the book here.

Available now from Dunmore Publishing, Ltd. Order here!

patrycja bialoszewska & neco gil, winners, book cover design contest #5

March 14th, 2011
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
http://venusfebriculosa.com/?paged=3">
Twitter
SHARE

We’re pleased to announce the winner of Book Cover Design Contest #5 [Parade by Patricia Grace]. The winning prize will be shared by Patrycja Bialoszewska of Wroclaw, Poland  and  Neco Gil of London, England.  Of Bialoszewska’s cover, Patricia Grace says ““The woman is caught and almost framed, and yet rejects and turns away from the frame. She questions her identity, one face of her turned away, uncertain. But she comes to a realisation, becomes erect in pride and dignity.”

Many thanks to our jurors Patricia Grace, John Gall, and Marco Sonzogni.

There were many excellent covers among the 84 entries. Below are just a handful:

 

From top:

First row (l) Agata Jakubowska, (r) Tsvetelina Panova.

Second row (l) Andrey Bashkin, (r) Jay Paavonpera.

Third row (l) Anne Jordan, (r) Rusudan Margishvili.

Fourth row (l) Elliot Stokes, (r) Ash  Hutchinson.

Fifth row (l) Jonathan Yue, (r) Kristina Moersdorf.

Check back here in the next day or two for  a link to all of the entries.

Thanks to all who participated!

cover design contest no.6: DSM-5/DSoM at 40, american psychiatric association/pink floyd [2013]

February 4th, 2011
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
http://venusfebriculosa.com/?paged=3">
Twitter
SHARE

Here is something new and different.

Publication of the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in 2013 will mark one the most anticipated events in the mental health field, replacing the current edition, DSM-IV-TR. DSM is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States and contains a listing of diagnostic criteria for every psychiatric disorder recognized by the US healthcare system.
2013 also marks the 40th anniversary of the release of one of the best-selling albums of all time: The Dark Side of the Moon by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd. DSoM is also one of the most recognizable album covers ever, designed by
Hipgnosis partners Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell and created by associate George Hardie. Thorgerson also designed the cover for the 20th Anniversary box set edition, and also participated in the design of the 30th Anniversary 5.1 channel surround sound mix on the SACD format.

The purpose of the contest is to explore the interrelationship between these two very different works. 

Submissions may be in the form of a book cover or CD/DVD for the DSM-5 and/or an album cover or CD/DVD for the 40th Anniversary of the Dark Side of the Moon or a “mashup” of both works.

 Entries are dues Friday, April 1, 2011.

There will be at least one prize of $671 US for the winning entry. There may also be several interesting non-cash prizes for entries worthy of special mention.

Complete information and rules here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

Image by Storm Thorgerson

#5 deadline extended until February 15th

January 11th, 2011
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
http://venusfebriculosa.com/?paged=3">
Twitter
SHARE

book cover design contest #5: parade, patricia grace

December 3rd, 2010
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
http://venusfebriculosa.com/?paged=3">
Twitter
SHARE

2010-12-03_110012“Yesterday I went with Hoani, Lena, and the little ones up along the creek where the bush begins, to cut fern and flax.


So begins “PARADE“, by Māori author Patricia Grace (1937 –  ) from her short story collection Waiariki published in 1975, the first such collection by a Māori woman writer.

A brief summary from the New Zealand Book Council website:

“Patricia Grace is a major New Zealand novelist, short story writer and children’s writer, of Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa and Te Ati Awa descent, and is affiliated with Ngati Porou by marriage. Grace began writing early, while teaching and raising her family of seven children, and has since won many national and international awards, including the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize for fiction, the Deutz Medal for Fiction, and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, widely considered the most prestigious literary prize after the Nobel. A deeply subtle, moving and subversive writer, in 2007 Grace received a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to literature.”

The prize for the winning entry is $1500NZ!

Jurors include the author herself,  illustrious book cover designer John Gall, Venus febriculosa colleague Marco Sonzogni, and the former publishing director of Penguin NZ, Geoff Walker.

As usual, complete information and rules are here.

You may read the full text of the story is here.

Anna Zyśko

October 3rd, 2010
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
http://venusfebriculosa.com/?paged=3">
Twitter
SHARE

Anna ZyskoAfter the grueling efforts on the part of our five distinguished jurors to determine a winner with initially no consensus among them (luckily, I was not one of them!), we are relieved and very pleased to finally congratulate the winner of our Book Cover Contest No.4, Anna Zyśko of Tarnobrzeg, Poland, for her wonderful cover. Truly, this was an almost impossibly difficult contest and we are grateful to every one of the 241 entrants from 44 countires who courageously took part in the endeavor and who submitted many interesting and well-designed covers. Below are are six covers that we like (click on each for larger image). You can view all of the entries here. Again, thank you all, and stay tuned for No.5!

gary_gowanspeter_chmeladamian_ langoszRazvan_Mitoiuagata_jakubowskaneven_udovicic

Top Row, Left to Right: Gary Gowans, Fife, Scotland; Peter Chmela, Blatná na Ostrove, Slovakia.

Middle Row, Left to Right: Damian Langosz, Krośnica, Poland; Razvan Mitoiu, Ploiesti, Romania.

Bottom Row, Left to Right: Agata Jakubowska, Lodz, Poland; Neven Udovičić, Zminj, Croatia.

Anna studied under Professor Piotr Lech and received her Diploma in Graphic Design in 2009 from the Art Institute of Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin. When contacted, she had the following to say about her cover:

As I am from Poland I have been to Auschwitz and currently living in Lublin I have also seen Majdanek. Books by Tadeusz Różewicz and Zofia Nałkowska were required reading when I was a teenager. Seeing and reading about it was a memorable, shocking experience which I used when designing the cover.

Camp barbed wires are compounded in the title and author’s name, but the background shows blue sky – in order to underline that the book not only describes in detail the everyday life of prisoners who were killed but also shows that a few of them survived.

borowski competition update

July 30th, 2010
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
http://venusfebriculosa.com/?paged=3">
Twitter
SHARE

here in our aushwitzThe deadline for our Book Cover Design Contest No. 4 on Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen is exactly one month away! We have assembled an impressive list of jurors, some of whom will be familiars to frequenters of this site: Alicia Nitecki, John Guzlowski, Jae Rossman, Barbara Girs, and Marco Sonzogni.  For a little inspiration here is the working cover design for the forthcoming Yale University Press London translation of Borowski’s stories (translated by Madeline Levine, Professor of Slavic Literatures, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill). It’s worth noting that this translation contains twenty stories in addition to the twelve that comprise This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen (incidentally, the title story is here translated as “Ladies and Gentlemen, Please Come to the Gas.”). I have my doubts that this will be the actual cover, since YUP London used that image on last year’s The Warsaw Ghetto: A Guide to the Perished City by Barbara Engelking and Jacek Leociak.

9780300116908Yale University Press New Haven shows a different and I’d say less interesting cover on their website (left), although something tells me this won’t be the actual cover either.

We are grateful to the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles for their partnership in this important competition!

A complete list of rules is here (in English) and here (polski tekst).

stara gwardia (the old guard) by mieczysław lurczyński, 1946, translated by alicia nitecki

July 25th, 2010
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
http://venusfebriculosa.com/?paged=3">
Twitter
SHARE

“What was done to people locked up behind wires and dressed in stripes simply defies description.” – Mieczysław Lurczyński, Preface, The Old Guard

Gustaw Morcinek Listy spod morwyWorld War II casts a long shadow over history. Remarkably, fifty and sixty years later, there are still works of Holocaust literature being published in English translations for the first time. And, shamefully, there are other books that for one reason or another may never see publication in English. An unfortunate example of the latter is Gustaw Morcinek’s Listy spod morwy (Letters from Under a Mulberry Tree). Morcinek (1891 – 1963) was an important author who had written a dozen books during  the interwar period. He was arrested on September 6, 1939, a mere six days into the German invasion of Poland,  and spent the entire duration of the war in concentration camps, first in Sachsenhausen and then in Dachau from March 1940 until the camp was liberated in April 1945. Letters from under a Mulberry Tree, a collection of a dozen essays, was written in France that summer.  According to Alicia Nitecki, “in its disawoval of any claims to ‘heroism’ or ‘martyrdom’ and its unflinching portrayal of what existence in the camp revealed about human nature (“A psychologist would have wonderful material here to study and deepen his knowledge of man, Morcinek wrote) the work is indeed close in spirit to that of We Were in Auschwitz.”  Someday, hopefully soon, we will be able to read it!THE OLD GUARD

Stara Gwardia (The Old Guard) by Mieczysław Lurczyński (1908 -1992), published this year in a searing translation by Nitecki, is a fortunate example of the former. A member of the Polish Home Army, Lurczyński was arrested in February 1943 and after a month in Pawiak Prison and a week in Majdanek was transported to Buchenwald. In February 1945 he was transferred to SS-Kommando Hecht in Escherhausen.  He managed to escape from the train transporting the prisoners out of the camp as it was being evacuated at the end of March 1945.  Like Morcinek and Letters from under a Mulberry Tree, no sooner had Lurczyński gained his freedom than he began writing The Old Guard. Nitecki notes in her introduction that “the play is based on situations its author had witnessed, characters he had seen, and conversations which he had noted down verbatim on scraps of paper in Buchenwald and its sub-camp SS-Kommando Hecht, and had miraculously managed to smuggle out of the camps with him.”

In his own preface Lurczyński writes that the “the play does not have any great atrocities in it. The focus, rather is on internal experiences and on depicting pained, sick, desperate , and resigned psyches, on depicting the methods by which people were turned into beasts, and beasts into freaks of nature.” Acutely aware that the language of the play was “the depraved language of a human cesspool” he elected to print only 200 copies and to personally distribute them to people “who will tolerate the raw breath blowing from its pages, and who will realize the moral imperative of telling the truth…at any price.” And indeed the raw callousness with which the characters describe the depravity around them is harrowing, and the venomous rage present in the characters’ exchanges is disagreeable and disarming, suggesting a much more recent play at perhaps a greater remove from its subject matter. It is to Nitecki’s credit that she chose not to tone down the play, but instead unleashed it full force, which no doubt some readers may find offensive.

At the heart of the play (set in the single room where all three acts take place) is the struggle between Geniek, the thuggish, debased, disillusioned Lageraeltester (the Camp Elder, a prisoner in charge of the camp and answerable to the Commandant) and Fryderyk, “an old actor of considerable renown; a man of the 19th century: romantic, self-centered, idealistic…a relative newcomer.” Fryderyk, who as Professor Nitecki tells us in her introduction, is modeled on “Fryderyk Jarosy (1890 – 1960) a theater director, film actor, and reknowned king of Warsaw cabaret.” is a sort of elder statesman, a civilized relic from a saner era who because of his relatively privileged status within the camp has so far has managed to resist its dehumanization. As he says in one scene:

“I was part of the scene where Wedekind performed on the guitar, where one evening Chaliapin at the dawn of his fame sang Russian folks in a bass voice, where the divine Eleanor Duse and Sarah Bernhardt and the satirist Heine passed through, where Thoma and Rilke, still young and unknown, came by. I had the good fortune to see the beginnings of contemporary French art and music. Next to me, Picasso created the first of his works, Debussy played. I took part in creating theatre with Rheinhardt who was financed by my father among others. I had the fortune to spend time in Austria where the exiled Meyrink wrote his political satires. As a young diplomat, I managed to get to know the court of Nicholas II, Francis Jozef, and Wilhelm II; I witnessed the behind-the-scenes negotiations and trivialities. I studied in England at Oxford…”

In fact, Lurczyński noted later that “a conversation with him was an escape, it allowed me to get a breather from the primitiveness and bestiality surrounding me on all sides.”

In contrast, witness Geniek’s stunning ἀπολογία directed at Fryderyk, arguably the play’s most powerful passage:

“We, the old guard, the old numbers…do you know what number I have from Auschwitz?

(shows his tattoo)

See. 7000. 1940. We the Alte Garde, we’ve survived everything and we’ll survive this, too, because we are the future of Poland, the backbone on which everything will depend. You weren’t in Auschwitz; you didn’t see what we saw. For us, dying was like shitting is to everyone else. You don’t know a goddamned thing, that’s the problem. Did an SS man choke you half to death like Palitsch did me? Did you squeeze into a bunker, crammed with twelve others – in 9 square feet of space! – when the little high window got frozen over from our breathing and you couldn’t reach to wipe it clear? I was taken out for interrogation and the others croaked, suffocated over the next few days, the window frozen over. They were carried out before my eyes. Six days without eating and to die from a lack of air! Have you experienced anything like that? So how can you know? Did you see how the Russkies gave a beating? How they’d pick a guy up and slam him to the ground so that they’d rupture his kidneys. And he’d swell up and lie dying for weeks on end. Or how they’d hold a victim under water in such a way that he wouldn’t drown. By the hour, in the Block gutters where the fucking Holzschuhe are washed. I saw a Kapo from Cologne, a German Gypsy, built like that –

(demonstrates the wide breadth of the man’s shoulders)

who was beaten in Buchenwald for half a day and then was carried out in a wheelbarrow, a pile of meat vomiting blood, and dumped behind the small Lager. And then I saw that pile of meat leap up and run, blindly, with dislocated shoulders, to the gate, seeking safety with the SS.

(he drinks)

So what do you know, you old rat fuck? Huh? What the fuck do you know? You didn’t get to experience the Lager thanks to my good graces. Did you see the first mass extermination at Auschwitz? Were you there? In the evening, six hundred people were called out and herded into Block Eleven. Nobody believed – nobody wanted to believe – they would be shot. But already, in the morning wagons were pulled through the Lager loaded to the top with corpses still leaking blood like pigs. I myself pulled a wagon…and behind us we left a broad trail, like a bubbling red stream. The wind blew back the canvas and we saw the naked bodies, riddled with bullets, with bared teeth and eyes wide open. For weeks I loaded corpses, was a Leichentraeger. Two of us would pick up a body by its extremities and swing it – hup, hup, hup – into the air and onto the wagon where it would land among its shit-caked and foul-smelling kinsmen. My first three days on the job, I couldn’t eat a thing. And I was hungry, friend. I’d’ve settled for anything: a crust of stale bread or some soup made from rutabaga and old gramophone records. But I couldn’t eat. My hands were thick with fat from the corpses and there was nowhere I could wash them.

(pause)

That’s what times were like. And now you want me to regret the loss of a bowl? I’ve got bowls up the ass in the Block. Let those cocksuckers organize for what they need wherever they can, the way I organized old food cans from the garbage so that I could find enough peelings to make a half cup of soup. Fucking money-grubbing, ass-fucking millionaires! What do I give a shit about them? Did you see my number? The first transport to Auschwitz, two years of penal Kommando in Birkenau, where organizing the dregs from SS lunches was hog heaven. I shit blood for two weeks after getting typhus – do you hear me? Typhus! – wasn’t able to eat a thing. People like me will be the future of Poland. We know what we have to do. Our Lager education will come in handy.”

Very special thanks to Alicia Nitecki for her introduction to and translation of  The Old Guard, Excelsior Editions, SUNY Press, 2010. Information from Letters from under a Mulberry Tree is from Beyond the Archives: Research as a Lived Process.

byliśmy w oświęcimiu

July 24th, 2010
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
http://venusfebriculosa.com/?paged=3">
Twitter
SHARE

bylismy w oswiecimiuI am indebted to Alicia Nitecki for sending me this image of the 1958 edition of Byliśmy w Oświęcimiu (We Were in Auschwitz) published by Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej with a cover designed by Miroslaw Pokora (1933 – 2006) an artist perhaps best known for his illustrations of children’s books.