The Spots That Never Went
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The Spots That Never Went is a personal reflection on the devastation of AIDS and the lasting impact on a generation, presented in tabloid and broadsheet newspaper formats.
The book is a Highly-Commended Finalist at the 2019 Cornish Family Prize for Art and Design Publishing, announced at the 2019 Melbourne Art Book Fair (15-17 March 2019). Sarah Bodman from the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), UWE Bristol, picked it as one of ten artists’ books of 2018. She writes, “It’s a brutally simple, heartbreaking thing – we need to read more books like this.” https://www.a-n.co.uk/news/artists-books-2018-10-of-the-best-from-irreverent-fun-to-brutal-heartbreak/
An exhibition of new work-in-progress developed responding to the publication, took place Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 February 2020 at Cambridge Artworks, Cambridge CB4 3EF. www.rbakker.com
The Spots That Never Went was included in the group show, Print: A Catalyst for Social Change, Bury Art Museum, Bury BL9 0DR (9 February-27 April 2019) and was selected for Salon 18, Photofusion’s annual members’ show at London SW9 8LA (7 December 2018 to 12 January 2019).
The work is presented in tabloid newspaper format, Bakker forcing his own self-definition on both paper and form, to contrast with the lurid reporting of AIDS by the tabloid newspapers in the 1980s/90s.
The images in the book are created from one Polaroid print showing a decaying, spotted apple held tenderly in the palm of a hand, the spots evoking memories of people living with Kaposi’s sarcoma. To link with newspaper printing, a halftone screen was applied to the image, after which individual sections were enlarged, the process creating a multitude of distorted, fragmented images. The black and white spots explore notions of remembering and forgetting, darkness and light, hope and fear, being HIV positive or HIV negative, presence and absence, life and death.
Facing each image is a brief sentence, a memory or experience put down in print, always starting with the words, ‘I remember a time…’
I remember a time when the police raided bars and clubs wearing decontamination suits and gloves.
Presented in a polypropylene pocket, the centrefold of the tabloid newspaper includes an actual-size copy of the original colour Polaroid print; a separate broadsheet print shows a halftone reproduction of the entire Polaroid photograph reproduced larger than life and functions as a paper memorial – unlike friends and lovers who perished, the paper will age and deteriorate.
£15. Ships worldwide
Self-published artist’s book, 28pp, tabloid newspaper (289mm x 380mm, newspaper print, 55gsm); glued-on colour print copy of Polaroid Spectra positive print (100mm x 100mm, matt photo paper, 120gsm); broadsheet newspaper, 4pp (350mm x 500mm, newspaper print 55gsm); archival crystal clear polypropylene pocket, black dot sticker, black board (A4, 300gsm).
Printed Lies is a reproduction in book format of the 2016 Vote Leave campaign video, Which NHS will you vote for? Assembled by Roelof Bakker, the book exposes how both explicit and implicit lies are part of the present political sphere of the UK.
In the book, screengrabs taken from the video portray what hospital life is like ‘inside the EU’ and how it will be once the UK is ‘outside the EU’ – with £350m to spend every week on the NHS. The images subtly imply that once the UK is ‘outside the EU’, hospitals will be less busy as EU citizens will be gone.
In a brief essay, Bakker states, “I never thought I would publish a book of hatred, of lies, but here it is.”
Reviewing Printed Lies for The New European, Steve Anglesey calls the book “a devastating work” and writes, “I’m not sure I’ve read a more compelling illustration of why Leave won than Printed Lies.”
76 pp, paperback, size 13.2 x 19.7cm
Publication date 21 November 2017
Available at https://negativepresslondon.bigcartel.com/product/printed-lies (free UK p&p).