INSECTA, a modern-day wunderkammer, contains thirty exquisite prints of insects selected from the Florida State Collection of Arthropods made from original handworked 20”x 24” image transfers produced at the New York Polaroid Studio. A.S. Byatt’s tale of enchantment, “Things Are Not What They Seem,” from her novella Angels and Insects, is paired with the images to create this cabinet of curiosity.
Edition of 50 numbered and signed copies, and four proofs. $5000. Published fall of 2005 9” x 13” x 2” 84 pp.
In the creation of INSECTA, artist Linda Broadfoot seamlessly unites traditional letterpress with a new printing process. She printed the text on Hahnemühle Biblio and Copperplate papers using a Vandercook Universal III at the Letterpress & Foundry of Michael and Winifred Bixler in Skaneateles, New York where the Centaur and Arrighi types were cast.
For the book's illustrations, the mammoth original Polaroid transfers were rephotographed and produced as gicleé prints on Crane's Museo. The Epson printer that was used for this process employs the most recent technology and archival pigmented inks. The delicate insect images are contained within silk organza pockets mounted on pages impressed with their Latin names.
Sarah Crooks Flaire created the line drawings enlivening the text. Papers handmade by Ann Marie Kennedy and Kathryn Clark grace the endsheets and covers. A half-bound portfolio, constructed and embossed by Julie Leonard, houses the three section booklet containing Byatt’s story and the six individually bound image signatures. Each copy of INSECTA is encased in a custom maple and poplar insect specimen box.
PROCESS & INTENT
In the spring of 2001, I began to borrow insect specimens from the Florida State Collection of Arthropods. Carefully transporting this delicate cargo to New York, I used the Polaroid 20 x 24 Studio to make large image transfers of my subjects. I was working with an alternative photographic process—after the initial exposure, the image is transferred to watercolor paper, and then refined by hand to mute portions of its surface. The final piece is titled with the specimen’s Latin name, in the tradition of ars botanica. Selecting from more than 60 originals, I chose the work enclosed in this book to make small prints on fine art paper for these pages.
Upon discovering in British author A.S. Byatt’s Angels and Insects the mystic tale “Things Are Not What They Seem,” I knew it was the ideal narrative frame for these strange and beautiful creatures. Her words are included here not only as a vital element but as a numinous guide to viewing of this “Cabinet of Wonder.”
Such a tradition can be traced to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when European gentry compiled collections of oddities and exotic artifacts from the New World. These Wunderkammern were “cabinets of curiosities” to those who were bound to their parlors as the wonders of untamed lands flooded into their ports.
INSECTA is a modern-day Wunderkammer. Here, the reader may take an active part in the revelation of the cabinet’s contents, a balance of the creations of both God and man – nature and art.