Maji Moto: Dispatches from a Drought
U P D A T E
There are only 30 plus copies remaining as of May 2016 and less than ten copies of the deluxe edition.
Maji Moto: Dispatches from a Drought: Photographs and Lyrical Essays by Courtney Fitzpatrick was the fourteenth title published under the Horse & Buggy Press imprint. This fine press book and broadside collaboration was the centerpiece of a multi-media exhibit in our Upfront Gallery in 2012. This exhibit included books displayed on custom cherry wall-mounted bookstands, framed photographs, limited edition giclee/letterpress broadsides, and a large-scale environmental text installation in the storefront window.
Maji Moto: Dispatches from a Drought
Photographs and Lyrical Essays by Courtney Fitzpatrick
A Horse & Buggy Press Book
Courtney spent 17 months in the remote Amboseli basin of Kenya during 2009 and 2010. As Amboseli descended into, suffered from, and eventually emerged from the worst drought in living memory, her evocative writing and photographs became a personal record of a fragile ecosystem. The acts of writing and making photographs for Courtney— while in a region and a situation few people will ever experience—were both a process of discovery and a means for reflection.
from one of Courtney’s essays…
The sky keeps filling with clouds. A goose down comforter shields this piece of Earth from its sun and one fish-belly cloud hangs low and swollen.
How can these clouds not bring rain?
This drought is the worst that anyone can remember. It has draped the landscape in zebra pelts, laying them out like the watches of Salvador Dali. Stripes melt. Faces seep into the ground, baring a toothy grimace….
I collaborated with Courtney for over a year, shaping this content into a fine press book as well as limited edition broadsides created through an integration of giclee printing (color photograph) and letterpress printing (three colors of text content). The book and broadsides are exhibited alongside framed photographic prints from Maji Moto—a body of work that bears witness to the transformation of both a physical and psychological landscape. The stirring narrative, carried forth equally by words and images, is presented first and foremost through the engaging intimacy of a hand-bound book, a tactile artifact with enduring emotional resonance.
The large-format, 88 page limited edition book is a unique balance of images (over 40 in full color) and lyrical essays (10) that manages to be both a “document” of a rather unique place and time in a remote part of the world as well as a highly personal and poetic account. The book also includes an introduction by Courtney along with forewords by noted field biologists Harry Greene and Donna Haraway.
An excerpt from Harry Greene’s foreword…
“Those of us concerned with the fate of biodiversity are saddled with terrible dilemmas: As humans willy-nilly shape the future, we are bereft of consensus over just what to save and where to save it, let alone how to do so. In the face of shrinking habitats and climate change, with our population burgeoning and the extinction of many species inevitable, what are defensible benchmarks for conservation? And more philosophically, how can we yearn for untrammeled places yet bemoan our separation from nature? Not only are words like wilderness subject to debate, it’s as if within the last few million years, by gaining the capacity to contemplate our fate, we’ve pulled away from the natural world for which many of us profess such longing. Rather than providing direct answers to these tough questions, Maji Moto asks us to think longer and harder, inspired by the luminous prose and remarkable photographs of Courtney Fitzpatrick, a young woman who went to Kenya to study baboons . . .”
From Donna Haraway’s preface…
“Maji Moto draws wonder and terror in thimbleful after thimbleful from the hot springs at the Amboseli Baboon Research Project in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. The life-saving rains did not come the year Fitzpatrick came to mix her sweat, laughter, and tears with the breath of baboons, people, antelope, elephants, and many more. The laden clouds tantalized and withheld, day after day. The pictures show it; the lyrical words etch it into the flesh. The earth is warming; the suspects in this terran crime are flying overhead in thin metal jet shells that split the clouds, but they bring no rain.”
Select elements of the book, including the covers, were hand-printed on a Vandercook letterpress and heavyweight paper is used throughout the book including flyleaf endsheets. Each of the numbered 175 limited edition copies is signed by Courtney and includes a hand-printed bookmark, as well as a frameable, photographic print tucked into a translucent envelope inside the back cover. Below are a few spreads.
Four images from the book were used to create four different broadsides in limited editions ranging from 20 to 30 (depending on the image). Each broadside is 16 x 22 inches with one image and a text excerpt from the book.
Below is a glimpse at all four of the broadside designs.
I was especially happy with how dimensional and life-like the image reproductions came out through the archival giclee printing process, even while printing on toothy watercolor like paper—which then of course beautifully shows off the tactile, letterpress impression of the text excerpt…
Maji moto, and we are in hot water indeed. Glaciers are melting, the wells are running dry, and still there is the private weight and weather of our own days. Where is the aquifer that hydrates your solar plexus? I will pluck out the straws and cork the leaks. Let me lash hinged thimbles to your fingertips. Ten tiny buckets will swing like iron when you walk, heavy with the catch of your rain.
Anna Lena Phillips wrote a great article about the project in American Scientist magazine.
Chris Vitiello reviewed the book/project in the May 30, 2012 edition of The Independent Weekly.
There is a curated excerpt of work up on The Paris Review website. If you aren’t in the Durham area, this is a good way to get a deeper glimpse into the content of the project. However, if you are in the Durham, North Carolina area I highly recommend you don’t take a peek, so that when you view the physical book for the first time it will be with “fresh” eyes.
An artist whose primary medium is science, Courtney completed her undergraduate degree in studio art at UNC-Chapel Hill and taught photography at New York’s Hetrick-Martin Institute before returning to her early interest in evolutionary biology. As a graduate student in biology, she received a Fulbright Fellowship to study sexual selection and primate reproductive biology in the wild. The scientific results of her collaboration with the Amboseli Baboon Research Project resulted in a Ph.D. from Duke University. Courtney lives in Durham and is originally from both Oregon and North Carolina.
The signed and numbered, limited edition book is for sale at $140. Broadsides are $120. As with all H&B products, there is a one week, money back guarantee. If you change your mind after receiving the goods, they can be returned for a full refund within one week.
The order form is linked below, but feel free to just call or email your order in as well. I’ll mail the goods to you with an invoice payable upon receipt. It’s that simple.
Maji Moto order form
Maji Moto announcement
FOYER GALLERY HOURS — While the Maji Moto exhibit has been broken down, the book is still on display. Visitors are welcome to sit and have a quiet moment with the book. Hours are Fridays 11 – 2, Saturdays 9 – Noon, and by appt. We also have an open studios event on the Friday of each month from 6 – 9 pm as part of Third Friday Durham.
H&B FINE PRESS LIBRARY — In an attempt to make the book—and spending slow reading time with Courtney’s work—as accessible as possible, I’ve decided to make copies of Maji Moto available on a one week loaner basis for those who wish to read it, but are unable to purchase this limited edition, fine press book. Contact me via email for details.
Thanks to Tim Schrand for making wall-mounted cherry bookshelves for displaying the books, to Craven Allen House of Frames for framing the broadsides and the photographs, and to Mitch Fisher of Fisher Signs and Graphics for installing the environmental text installation.