Many of Daniel Kelm’s most recent editioned works, such as Mars, began as one-of-a-kind prototypes. The long gestation of bookworks such as this allows layers of symbolism and meaning to build over the years, forming intricate connections between form, imagery, and materials. The accordion book structure bearing images of the god Mars, as well as the phrases “God of War” and the two names of the god (the Greek “Ares” and Roman “Mars”), can be assembled into a three-dimensional dodecahedron shape by pinning the sides together. Accompanying the book is a narrative that lays out the story behind and inspirations for the work’s creation, as well as a text, “The Voice of Mars,” which allows this figure of chaos and destruction to speak directly to the audience.
In addition to sheltering these books, the container holds three metal objects that Kelm calls the “three faces of Mars:” a Civil War-era canister ball representing Mars’s militaristic character; a chrome-steel ball bearing relating to the god’s scientific properties; and an iron nickel meteorite symbolizing the celestial realm.
—Aprile Gallant, Curator, Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, Smith College Museum of Art
“Voice of Mars” text by Taz Sibley.
Mars narrative text by Daniel E. Kelm.
Produced with the assistance of Greta D. Sibley, Kylin Lee, Meg Sanders, Michael Richardson, Amy Grigg, Barry Spence, J Doster, and other mechanics at the Wide Awake Garage.
Acrylic paint, starch paste, silkscreen, offset, and letterpress on various papers with wire edge binding enclosed in a Japanese bookcloth-covered paperboard box with chrome-steel ball bearing, sand cast iron canister ball, and iron-nickel meteorite.
Held in private collections.
You may request to see Mars at:
Indiana University, Lilly Library
Rhode Island School of Design, Artists’ Books Collection, Fleet Library
Skidmore College, Lucy Scribner Library
Smith College, Mortimer Rare Book Room
University of Vermont, Bailey/Howe Library, Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries, Seattle, Special Collections
Included in the exhibition Poetic Science: Bookworks by Daniel E. Kelm at Smith College Museum of Art.
Kelm collaborated with One Match Films to produce ten videos for the Poetic Science exhibition in 2007. These videos, commissioned by Smith College Museum of Art, were on display in the gallery for the duration of the show.