The Day My Keys Didn't Want To Go Home
By Jean de la Fontaine and Madison Smartt Bell
[Paris]: [nd], Madison Smartt Bell. Edition of 39.
6 x 8" closed, opens to 25.75 x 35.75"; 18 grids. Map fold with cloth back. Paper title label on first folded cloth panel. In cloth slipcase with paper title on spine.
Madison Smartt Bell: "In the spring of 2004 I met Jean de la Fontaine in Paris. He showed me an old slip-covered map with a cloth back and a multi-paneled folding design. Jean and I had collaborated on 2.5 artists' books in the past. The first book, The Double Tongue, began with art by Jean to which I added text. The second book, Mister Potatohead In Love began with my text, to which Jean added images. Version 2.5, intended to consist of images by me to which Jean would contribute text, was never released, although a draft effort, Kochon Kreyol: a story in pictures, survives.
"Jean's idea was for the found map to serve as a template for our third collaboration. We began with the pattern furnished by the folds and panels. I moved to Paris in the winter of 2005 with my wife and daughter. A gray winter.
"I spent a lot of time underground in the metro. I began to think of a story loosely based on these underground transits, and on a piece of choral music by Couperin called Lecons des Tenebres. Meanwhile an image appeared to Jean in a dream. We needed to find a place to work on the project together. A good spot was offered to us by Gerard Barthelemy. He and his family had spent 20 years or so renovating an abandoned mill complex about 50 miles north of Paris. Gerard spent many years in Haiti, where Jean and I have also spent some time -- and the feel of the Moulin Rouge was very much that of a Haitian lakou. Gerard's wife Perrine let us use her studio for a couple of days. The room had once controlled a water-gate and the mill stream still flows beneath it....
"Oddly, Jean and I had never worked together simultaneously on any of our earlier collaborations. The books we had done before had happened through the mail when both of us were in different countries. Oddly we weren't quite sure to do. I forget which one of us made the first move. It might have been me telling a story idea about a person riding around in the metro, unwillingly assailed by the thoughts of other passengers. Or maybe Jean drew the image from his dream, a snake shooting out a man's ear.
"With the ice broken we both worked quickly and happily. My original notion for a story called Lecons des Tenebres was gloomy as hell. The image from Jean's dream might perhaps have been a little frightening. Somehow the friction of the two ideas together cheered each other up..."