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Bird Press ~ Massachusetts
(Thorsten Dennerline)

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Bird Press: "The main focus of all the work originates from an interest in poetry and the relationship between text and image. This has led to collaborative projects with writers in book form and paintings and drawing projects that explore the poetic possibilities of the landscape."

A Cloud in Trousers
Prologue and Part One

By Vladimir Mayakovsky
Translated by Michael Dumanis
Images by Thorsten Dennerline
Bennington, Vermont: Bird Press, 2016. Edition of 38.

9 x 7"; 28 pages (including free end pages).Plate lithography and letterpress. Bound in cover papers From Saint Armand. Sewn binding. Laid in trifold paper wrapper. Numbered. Signed by the artist. Wrapper numbered.

A collaboration with text by Michael Dumanis and images by Thorsten Dennerline, the book features a new translation of Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky's (1893 - 1929) "A Cloud of Trousers".

Prospectus: "The project began with lithographs inspired by the incredible intensity of Mayakovsky's work, life, and historical moment. The images evolved and morphed through the project: gestural drawing marks reflecting the idea of a 'monster artist' eventually became bodies, less monstrous but more mortal and vulnerable. Michael Dumanis juxtaposed the images with his new translation of the prologue and first part of Mayakovsky's celebrated poem. The translation focuses on preserving Mayakovsky's rhythm and musicality, guiding it toward something smooth, accessible and idiomatically modern."

Trevor Winkfield, Art in Print No.21: "Nestled between cadmium yellow covers, the 16-page poem is splayed across eight azure-colored spreads; the text is printed in black letterpress with yellow imagery often drifting across two pages and acting as clouds against a dense blue sky. But since poetry acts as a trigger to the imagination and sends the reader off on unexpected trajectories, these clouds could also double as ectoplasmic islands, or constellations - constellations that contain yet more worlds. Layer upon layer of amoeba-like shapes co-exist with other microscopic fragments, often corralled behind folding walls. Some even trespass onto the azure itself, like willful satellites. Or cloud fragments. All of this - clouds, sky, text - create a rich brew that has nothing to do with Soviet Russia and everything to do with the roots of poetry." "Mayakovsky’s early poems established him as one of the more original poets to come out of the Russian Futurism, a movement characterized by a rejection of traditional elements in favor of formal experimentation, and which welcomed social change promised by technologies such as automobiles. Specifically, Mayakovsky’s early poems lacked traditional metrical structure, relying instead on forceful rhythms, exaggerated imagery, and—perhaps most importantly—street language, considered unpoetic in literary circles at the time.

"In 1915, Mayakovsky published A Cloud in Trousers, his first major work. The long poem took the poet’s stylistic choices to a new extreme, linking irregular lines of declamatory language with surprising rhymes."

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The Wind
Text by Mark Wunderlich
Images by Thorsten Dennerline
Alstead, New Hampshire: Bird Press, 2014. Edition of 30 + 5 Artist's Proofs.

7 x 5.5" (174 by 142 mm) closed, extends to 210"; 38 pages with reverse side all image. Accordion fold structure. Processes: plate lithography, stone lithography, intaglio, letterpress. Printed by the artist on handmade paper. Bound in cloth-covered boards. In cloth-covered sleeve. Signed by the artist and writer. Numbered.

Thorsten Dennerline: "This book is the 12th book by The Bird Press. Each project is an attempt to experiment with the book format using hand processes and good quality materials."

Colophon: "The papers are handmade from Saint Armand Papeterie in Montreal, Canada, that were first printed by the artist seven times each on an Okuma flatbed offset proofing press with lithographic plates at Working Dog Press in Whately, Massachusetts. The sheets were then printed from hand drawn lithographic stones and etching plates at Bennington College Print Studios in Bennington, Vermont also by the artist. Daniel Keleher did the final casting and printing of the Granjon Linotype at Wild Carrot Letterpress in Hadley, Massachusetts."

Mark Wunderlich: "In early 2013, Thorsten Dennerline approached me about collaborating on an artist’s book. The process we agreed on was one in which I received a maquette of the book with the photographic images, and in response to the images and the limitations of these pages, I wrote a poem. Several months into our collaboration, my nephew died. He was twenty-one. At that point, the initial ideas I had for the work no longer seemed possible, and the poem became a meditation on my nephew’s absence. Thorsten’s photographs initially struck me as both hopeful and rather lonely; after my nephew’s death, the places one sees in the photographs were now inhabited by a ghost."

Thorsten Dennerline: " The project started when I approached Mark about making a book together. I then asked him to work from a series of edited photographs that were folded into a mock up/maquette. The photographs were folded into thirds and attached together into an concertina/accordion format. The agreement was that he could write anything he wanted knowing that I, in turn, would be working over the photographs as well. The poem and images were later joined together within the final book format. This allowed both of us the total freedom to work independently, but knowing that the meaning of our gestures would eventually be altered by the other's contributions."

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13 Tattoos
By Thorsten Dennerline
[Alstead, New Hampshire]: Bird Press, 2011. Edition of 25.

15.5 x 5.25"; 16 leaves. Woodblock prints. Photopolymer letterpress details. Printed on handmade Richard de Bas paper. Bound in red and black paper wraps with handsewn binding. Laid in four flap black and white paper wrapper. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Thorsten Dennerline: "Some time ago I suddenly got the urge to make a book about tattoos. I decided to think about tattoos not just as pictures or designs, but to consider them more broadly (scars, living drawing marks, body adornments, rites of passage, magic to improve the body’s function, ways to relieve or relive pain, signs of bravery, remembrances, cultural signifiers, or tribal/group markings). I also thought of the idea of drawing on skin and marking its surface as a way to be aware of it as a three-dimensional picture plane (with psychological implications). I have to admit that the associations with crime and other 'bad' things was enticing to me as well. This book of tattoo proposals is simply a non-linear document of my own thinking about these ideas."

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By Jorge Accame
Translated by Jonathan Pitcher
Alstead, New Hampshire: Bird Press, 2010. Edition of 40.

11.125 x 15"; 52 pages. Letterpress printed on Arches Velin papers. Digital printing by Derek Cracco at Ink to Paper in Birmingham, Alabama, on Kitakata paper. Drawings printed from lithographic stones at the Frans Masereel Center in Belgium at Corridor Press in Otego, New York and one image was printed at Bennington College, Vermont. Text in English and Spanish. Bound in cloth over boards with illustration tipped on front board.

Jorge Accame, Prologue:"In September 2005, I met Thorsten Dennerline by chance during a residency at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. We immediately hit it off. He spoke a fair amount of Spanish; I, some English, and with limited resources we understood that we had similar ideas on life and art. ... We soon realized that we could do a project together. We threw a few ideas on the table, and landed on this one one: to tell a short story together in words and images. . At least two risks presented themselves: first, we wanted to avoid slipping into an illustrated text; images and words should contribute to the furthering of the action, without repeating themselves or getting in each other's way. Thorsten then proposed starting the story with an image, I responded with words, to which Thorsten answered with another image, and so on up until the end. Because of this alternating, we had to be careful to maintain the thread of the story and the continuity of our narration."

"Halfway through, I had the impression that the story was heading in a clearer direction. I sensed that it could be about the night before Gregor Samsa changes into an insect. From that moment of suspect certainty we tightened its reins. Both forwards and backwards."

Jonathan Pitcher, translator, is a scholar of Latin American literature, philosophy, and history. He joined the Bennington faculty of the Isabelle Kaplan Center for Languages and Culture in fall 2004.

Jorge Accame is a writer and playwright. He was born in Buenos Aires but since 1982 has lived in the city of San Salvador de Jujuy, where he works as a lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Thorsten Dennerline is a printmaker-artist, who creates works in various media including drawing, printmaking, editioned books, and ceramics. He has worked on numerous collaborative projects with writers and poets. His work is narrative and deals with the interaction of text and image.

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The Trudge of Insects
By Thorsten Dennerline and Brendan Isaac Jones
Alstead, New Hampshire: Bird Press, 2006. Edition of 15.

12.875 x 9.125 x 4.75"; 216 unnumbered pages. Archival inkjet photographs printed at the Print Studios at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The artist then printed the three layers of lithographic inks on a DUFA IVA (flatbed offset press) in the same studios. Letterpress printed at Wild Carrot Letterpress with Daniel Keleher using a collection of Univers fonts on Saint Armand paper. Additional type cast by Ed Rayher at Swamp Press. Bound by Barry Spence at The Open Book Bindery in quarter sawn oak boards and alum taw goatskin. Housed in linen covered clamshell box.

Boxer and poet Brendan Jones's 94-part poem accompanies insect images by Thorsten Dennerline.

Thorsten Dennerline, colophon: "This book project began in 2002, when I started photographing insects from the collection of the entomology labs at the University of Massachusetts, with access generously provided by Benjamin Normark, the curator of the collections. I was captivated by the idea of looking closely at these beautiful specimens and their death silence created by the wounds of the display pins."

Brendan Jones, introduction: "I first came across Thorsten Dennerline's prints of insects at the MacDowell Colony. He had opened his studio to visitors, and his images were posted on the wall to the right of the door. It was a fall evening in New Hampshire, and people shied away from the entrance. But the insects, frozen by the doubleshot of a needle through their workings and the snap of the camera that chronicled their deathmasks – I could not stop staring.

"Thorsten's inkmarks deepen the images. Swirling, slashing, dotted, subtle then garish, barely visible until your eye begins trolling – the marks raised the question of to what degree did these insects still have life? Not life in the received sense, as any visitor to the Entomology Department at the University of Massachusetts will remark, but rather a quickness of their own given by Thorsten's hand.

"I have no doubt that these insects believed, in their final moments, that life on this earth has been enough. And yet their furred feet, nudged by Thorsten's brush, continue to trudge on. It was difficult for me, unmoving as the cold draft came through the door that night in New Hampshire, not to ask what these insects – and how I was seeing them – told me about my own life."

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The Man Who Fell Upwards
By Thorsten Dennerline
Hadley, Massachusetts: Bird Press, 2005. Edition of 15.

15.5 x 22.75"; 10 pages. Ten copper plate etchings developed over the course of a year. Chine collé sheets made and printed on DUFA IVA press in four colors onto Japanese Sekishu paper. Backing sheets from St. Armand Papeterie (Montréal).

Purists, even most non-purists, won't consider this an artists' book. Clearly it is more accurately labeled a portfolio of prints. These chine collé etchings take Chilean Vincente Huidobro's epic Altazor as its starting point. Huidobro is often compared with Apollinaire, and Octavio Paz called Altazor "the most radical experiment in the modern era." But artists' book manqué or not, The Man Who Fell Upwards will delight those who admire Dennerline's work, his cunning social and political commentary that combines the absurd and the grotesque to illustrate all too familiar truths. It is not hard to see how Dennerline found in the wild and wooly Huidobro a kindred sprit.

Thorsten Dennerline: "Between 1919-1931, Vincente Huidobro wrote Altazor: The Voyage in a Parachute. This poem described a journey that begins by falling through space/time/memory. The explosive intensity of Huidobro's writing seems to come from what he himself describes as the 'super-conscious'. I used this epic poem as a starting point for working on these images and, as expected, the image making process eventually strayed away from Altazor into another imaginary space. The background imagery depicts anatomical images from Chile, Huidobro's birthplace, delineating a small cosmos within the greater cosmos of infinite possibilities. With the exception of the last image, which ends the series by presenting an answer to all questions - the blank banner, the prints may be viewed in any order."

The process: the black images were first developed on the etching plates and then digitally photographed. The underlying color images were then developed on the computer and printed as four-color lithographs on Japanese paper. They were then used as chine collé sheets to be printed with the etching.

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Lover Loser
Diagram Poems by Egil Dennerline and Thorsten Dennerline
With lithographs by Thorsten Dennerline
Hadley, Massachusetts: Bird Press, 2003. Edition of 24.

6 x 9.75 x 1.5"; 70 pages. Color lithographs were hand printed by the artist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst on DUFA IV press. The texts were written by Egil Dennerline in Denmark (text marked with the letter "E") and by Thorsten Dennerline in the United States (text marked with letter "T"). Paper handmade by St. Armand Papeterie (Montreal). Printed at Wild Carrot Letterpress (Hadley, Massachusetts). Bindings designed by the artist and executed in full burnt-orange leather with exposed stab binding by Barry Spence at the Open Book Bindery (Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts). Housed in a solander box. Of the edition, the first 20 are numbered 1-20, and the remaining 4 are special copies numbered I - IV.

A series of diagram poems and idiosyncratic lithographs full of irony, wit, and spleen.

Colophon: "This book has been on the drawing board for quite some time. It was started in the summer of 2000 as a side project, where the idea took shape. In the summer of 2002 and in the aftermath of September 11, the project went into production."

Thorsten and Egil Dennerline, Introduction: "We humans are flawed in that we can't admit we're animals. And that like machines, we are constantly bent on our own destruction. Anti-intellectualism and rampant consumerism ('Greed is good') are only making matters worse. In this book, useless bodies, animals and machines merge and become our ultimate nightmare. They desire and hate, without understanding why. Dissatisfaction pervades them and they fill the void by surrounding themselves with accessories. Lover-Loser asks the obvious question: What is the price for happiness, today?

"These diagram poems are inspired by the ridiculousness of this human condition. In the tradition of Vicente Huidobro and Guillaume Apollinaire, the poems become drawings and are held together with lines, shapes and arrows. By printing texts on translucent papers, image and text are drawn ever closer. In this way, we add a depth and versatility of meaning to our impressions and lace them with a little bit of humor, because sometimes there is nothing left to do but laugh!"
$2,500 (Last 2 copies)

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Teach Me, Star of Night!
Lær Mig, Nattens Stjerne!

By Peter Laugesen
Hadley, Massachusetts: Bird Press, 2000. Edition of 55.

11 x 9.75"; 32 pages. Cast and set in the Perpetua typeface at the Letterfoundry of Michael and Winifred Bixler in Skaneateles, New York. With 8 etchings executed and printed by hand by Thorsten Dennerline with the help of Magaly Ponce. Bilingual text (Danish & English) printed by Daniel Keleher at Wild Carrot Letterpress in Hadley, Massachusetts. Binding designed by Thorsten Dennerline and made by Peter Verheyen, in Syracuse, New York. Of the 55 books printed, 1-40 are numbered in a regular edition, and 10 special bindings are numbered I-X. A set of 5 unique artists proof bindings are numbered AP1 - AP5. This is one of the regular edition. Sewn on 5 raised alum-tawed thongs. Buttonhole stitch endbands; spine covered in vellum; boards covered in quarter vellum with Japanese bookcloth sides; title and ornament stamped in black.

Eight poems by Peter Laugesen printed in Danish and English (translated from the original Danish by Susanne Jorn). Laugesen, in addition to being a poet, also works as an art critic, journalist, and translator. He has worked with poetry as painting ("writing on the wall"), as music and theatre, and has also translated Antonin Artaud, Heiner Müller, Gunnar Björling, Charles Olson, Georg Büchner, Heinrich von Kleist, Peter Handke, Novalis, William Shakespeare and others.

Painter and printmaker Dennerline produces artists' books that include his own lithographs, etchings, and wood block prints. He uses images of the absurd and the grotesque to represent aspects of interpersonal relationships with psychological and political implications. His attraction to poetry and in the interaction between text and image has led him to engage in collaborative projects with writers, poets, and other artists.

Thorsten Dennerline: "When people ask what my work is about, I often list a number of common threads that go through it. The first thread is my interest in poetry. The second is my interest in the relationship between text and image. The third is my interest in collaboration. Finally comes my interest in the grotesque and in animal imagery to depict my observations of human interaction or behavior. These interests manifest themselves in various combinations in most of my book projects and paintings."

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Page last update: 08.21.2023


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