Strange Genius

Trade Edition: Elegant Trade Edition is hardbound in Italian fabric and illustrated with 60 meticulously printed tritone and four-color plates.Edition is limited to 1200 copies. Book dimensions: 13 x 15 inches

Deluxe Edition: sold out
The signed and numbered Deluxe Edition includes 10 exquisite hand-pulled photogravures, 4 full-color planographs on fine tissue, and 46 additional tritone and color plates. It is hand-bound in Moroccan goatskin and fine fabric, and is encased in a matching portfolio case. Edition is limited to 165 copies. Book dimensions: 13 x 15 inches

Museum Edition of 55 copies: sold out

To order: please contact us


Artists included in this book: Kelly Grider, VIncent Serbin, Connie Imboden, Josephine Sacabo, Don Anton, Michal Macku, Andrea Modica, Keith Carter, Sheila Metzner, Stephen Berkman, John Metoyer, David Levinthal, Christoper Pekoc, and Sally Mann.

Choose one of these two signed and numbered
original platinum prints (11" X 14" images printed on 16" X 20" rag paper) with each Deluxe or Museum Edition of Volume V. 

Left: Michal Macku

Right: Josephine Sacabo

Michal Macku Josephine

Josephine Sacabo's Lens of Revelations by MORRI CREECH 

"The opposite of History, creator of ruins, / out of your ruins you have made creations", Octavio Paz once wrote in praise of the enigmatic American artist Joseph Cornell. Though Josephine Sacabo's vision and medium may bear little immediate resemblance to Cornell's own strange objects and box constructions, her art, too, assembles from the world's shattered pieces an arresting and transcendent creation. The world of her photographs, rich and searingly beautiful as it is sometimes desolate, seems filled with both spiritual sorrow and sensuality. Under her gaze every image - the ruin of a Mexican town, a road winding through a heap of broken rocks, birds scattering above the stone cross of a cathedral, a withered tree framing a sterile desert - is redeemed as tragedy, transformed into interior landscapes and narratives of suffering grace. 
Editor Statement

I am particularly excited about the fifth issue of 21st because I so deeply believe in this work and in the photographers and writers included, and because I am able to keep promises to several artists I have wanted to publish for quite a long time now. I have tried to make the selection as catholic as possible in its varieties of strangeness. Sometimes the strangness is primarily about the content; sometimes it is primarily about a particular photographer�s new and unusual content. There are, of course, a good many strange geniuses and a lot of wonderful strange work left out, but at least this brings a powerful mixture of strange but deeply artistic work to a larger audience. No doubt some will comment that much of this work is quite lyrical and sensual and wonder where the strangeness is. Too often we think that for something to have an edge, it has to have a jagged edge. However, few things are more edgy and shocking in contemporary art than beauty � witness the furor it can set off within the establishment.

In an essay in this issue I write that in earlier ages artists were more concerned with making art than with making �statements� or with being seen as relevant within the confines and definitions of their own tiny moment in history. When a segment of a society, a group of artists, or a body of intellectuals turn their backs on joie de vivre or decide that beauty needs any justification but itself, it is a certain sign that they are taking themselves quite importantly, and no kind of importance is more quickly forgotten in the slip and slide of history than self-importance.

The value of joy and beauty to the fullness and completeness of life � and of art � is so obvious that today�s cultural nihilists have cleverly shifted their arguments away from traditional appeals to sternness and seriousness, solidity of moral purpose and other such prescriptive formulas for the truth to one equally specious and dictatorial but with a showy intellectual and egalitarian veneer. In our time it is simply more effective to attack the very foundations of language and culture than to insist on particular behaviors. And so they argue that words like beauty, art, nature, and good and bad as aesthetic judgments are merely linguistic constructions with no objective reality, that these terms do not describe cultural universals and are no more than subjective descriptions. They argue that beauty has no meaning apart from the culture that produced a certain object and used the word beauty to describe it, that beauty is not a universally recognizable entity.

Theirs is a position of intellectual provincialism and suggests we are completely culture bound � or more precisely, temporally, societally, and linguistically bound to our own moment. The end result of such cultural, aesthetic, and linguistic reduction is solipsism � or catatonia. But art is the very thing that has always allowed us to leap centuries, languages, and cultures; it is a font at which we can all drink and mutually feel the same intoxication. If it weren�t the case why would the whole world, not just a single cultural segment, appreciate the beauties of, for example, Shakespeare, Li Bo, and the poetry of the Bushmen; Rimpa paintings, cave paintings, and Watteau; Shang or Benin or Rodin bronzes; the sounds of harps, gamelans, kotos, and sitars; Bergman, Kurosawa, and Satyajit Ray; and on and on?

Statement, edge, and all the other clich�s of contemporary criticism pale in the presence of art, which is always an expression of �strange genius.�

John Wood


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