BArch DR 1 / 2385

»The constitution of the GDR did not provide for censorship. In fact, however, censorship was carried out under the alternative term of printing approval and affected almost the entirety of book production«.
Source: The Federal Archives, Ministry of Culture, Introduction.

The printing approval procedure for »If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler« can be found in the Federal Archives under the designation BArch DR 1 / 2385. In this artist’s book, I have quoted a passage from Calvino’s novel in which Arkadian Porphyritsch justifies censorship using the love and appreciation of literature. Prophyritsch’s praise of the repressive police state is embossed on a total of six thin, waxed papers, the handmade material was originally used as a stencil for mimeography, a precursor to xerography. The six sheets loosely surround and cover a narrow booklet containing two expert assessments from the Federal Archives. To read Calvino’s text, the reader must open the sheets like a wrapper and fan them out. Through use, the wax layer will gradually acquire small white fractures; over time, the fine and fragile text may become completely illegible, its materiality disappearing, but the content will have impressed itself on the reader. The booklet inside contains the two expert assessments on the novel submitted to the Central Administration for Publishing Houses and the Book Trade, a publisher’s assessment by the editor Carola Gerlach and an external assessment by Sigrid Siemund. In their reviews, both argue for publication, whereby Carola Gerlach mentions the critical passage quite pointedly and presents it as a fine and clever satire by Calvino.

Text: Italo Calvino, Carola Gerlach, Sigrid Siemund
Idea, design, printing and binding: Veronika Schäpers
Paper: Toshaban (waxed Ganpi paper), Mitsumata paper and Rayon paper
Binding: Kozo covered Enduro Ice paper with embossed title
Printed from polymer plates
Multicolored acrylic box with silk-screened title
18 pages + 7 loose sheets, 15 x 30,5 cm + 30,5 x 46 cm
Edition: 15 copies numbered with Arabic numerals, 8 copies numbered with Roman numerals
Karlsruhe, 2023