Bart, Harriet. Plumb Bob. Minneapolis: Mnemonic Press. 2009.
A heavy metal weight attached to a cord or string, the plumb bob is a tool that has been used since ancient times to create a true vertical reference, or plumb line, in architecture. For many years, artist Harriet Bart has used these objects in conceptually-based installations such as Pendulum (2003) and Requiem (2003-11). Bart’s engagement with the plumb bob began with her interest in architecture and has evolved to encompass symbolic understandings of the tool as an object denoting rectitude and truth.
This publication explores the rationale behind her use of this recurring image and contains a mixture of quotations and original prose by the artist reflecting on the plumb bob’s history, use, and metaphorical meanings. Several illustrations of plumb bobs accompany the text. Also included is a facsimile letter on the history of the plumb bob written to the artist from Yakov Grichener, a friend of the artist’s now deceased father whose conversation helped to inspire the book. . The book is devoted to her father who, in the artist’s words, was “a blind man who saw everything.”
The text was set in Koch Antiqua and FF Meta and printed letterpress with the illustrations on 200gsm Fabriano Artistico. Typography and printing were completed by Philip Gallo at the Hermetic Press with additional digital imaging by Joan Nygren and Sarah Rathe. The binding and case of Plumb Bob were designed and fabricated by Jill Jevne using common materials from a hardware store to reflect the plumb bob’s humble character. The sewn binding features brass covers with steel hinges at the edges, and the front cover is engraved with the chemical symbol for lead [Pb]. The book is housed in a hinged case of beech wood with covers of aluminum and brass hardware cloth. A metal clasp closure secures the book in the case.
This book was published in an edition of 30, with 25 copies numbered 1-25 and 5 artist’s proofs lettered A-E. Each is signed by the artist on the colophon.
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