ANC067/068: Wounded Buildings/Simple Machines by Jay Besemer
all explanation flees / from the mind / where once there was / a kiosk promising / information
Sunlight seeps through the splintered ceiling of Buzludzha, a deserted national shrine lost within the mountains of Bulgaria. Finished in 1981 and abandoned eight years later with the fall of communism, stone, steel, and glass form a towering and futurist edifice gradually worn down as the landscape has reclaimed itself. Vegetation climbs shattered mosaics covered by graffiti. In winter, floors strewn with rubble are coated with snow. The proud extravagance of a people with timelessness on their mind quickly gave way to disrepair, leaving a desolate memento to puzzle subsequent generations with its tarnished opulence and antiquated ethos.
Wounded Buildings is Jay Besemer's ekphrastic response to the 2015 exhibit “Grace of Intention: Photography, Architecture and the Monument,” a collection of works examining the sociopolitical impulse for memorialization and the inevitable tension between past and present ideals. Besemer adds a third level of remembrance and shifting symbolism to the artists' interpretative documentation of structures initially constructed for allegorically commemorative purposes. Narratives adapt and are ultimately forgotten though their physical tributes remain; Besemer provides a "meditation on / the void, embodied conceptual, / concrete."
Simple Machines engages with parallel themes from a more personalized perspective. The soil and moss of natural settings merge with windows and walls found in built environments, spaces through which Besemer moves with quiet intention as he accesses meaning in a chaotic world. "Slow, slow living" allows Besemer to find "the door is open / & there is no rain / on the other side." These collections merge the organic and made, the internal and external, the public and private. Another New Calligraphy is proud to present both as a single edition, packaged with a supplementary set of cards depicting excerpts of Besemer's rich minimalism and enigmatic reflections.
For every copy sold, ANC will donate $1 to Life is Work—a Chicago safety and wellness resource center for trans and nonbinary people of color—in memory of community activist Elise Malary.