Antique Skies

Antique Skies

$20.00

Artist’s book by Johan Österholm

Texts by Helen Korpak, Stefan Lorenzutti, Johan Österholm

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After nearly four billion years aloft, the Cartographer had found little new to add to the portion of its chronicle dedicated to nightfall and the dark side of the Earth. It tended to focus instead on the changes visible on the half of the planet that was experiencing daylight. Then, in the first part of the nineteenth century, peculiar things started happening in the nocturnal hemisphere. In the autumn of 1826, unbeknownst to the Cartographer, workers, vagrants, and socialites hurried toward Unter den Linden, the boulevard at the heart of Berlin…

—Extract from Johan Österholm’s text “The Nocturnal Cartographer”

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Artist Johan Österholm’s Antique Skies process begins with the unsheathing of an X-Acto knife. To the horror of librarians everywhere, he carefully slits out blank or nearly blank sheets of yellowing paper (endpapers, for example) from nineteenth-century astronomy tomes, which he unearths in antiquarian bookshops across Europe and later carefully dissects in his Stockholm studio.

What might initially seem like an act of vandalism is not without its conservational claim. For more than a century, these mostly wordless, imageless pieces of paper have been, if not wasted per se, then not exactly used between the covers of their respective titles. Via a process that incorporates the spangled contents of celestial glass-plate negatives, a spray gun loaded with liquid silver gelatin, and a repurposed street lamp, Österholm has a grand use for them: to serve as canvases for the re-emergence of stars long shrouded by terrestrial light pollution.

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2021
Edition of 500
60 pages, paperback, 17.5×24 cm, color offset, sewn & glued
Printed on Alto Blanc 130, Arctic Volume Ice 130, and Invercote G 280
Designed by Gonçalo Sena/ATLAS Projectos
Texts by Helen Korpak, Stefan Lorenzutti, Johan Österholm
Published in conjunction with the exhibition Johan Österholm, Luminous Reign, at Kosminen, Helsinki, November 2021

Each copy of Antique Skies includes a pair of postcard-sized prints, tucked between its pages, with reproductions of works from Österholm’s After Marville (Whiteouts) series, for which the artist applied gesso to archival prints of photographs of Paris taken between 1862–1878 by Charles Marville, the city’s official photographer.

Antique Skies Image 2