With the world in the midst of a major economic contraction, and everyone scaling back as a result, Esopus decided to impose a significant limitation on its (already bare-bones) production process: Its new themed issue, “Black and White,” was printed with black ink only. Making the decision to go without color proved to be a considerable, but ultimately rewarding, challenge.
Most of Esopus 12’s contributors offered work that was black-and-white in its original form, like Stanley Greenberg’s compelling photographs of particle physics laboratories (see cover) or Michael Iskowitz’s powerful charcoal drawings (presented in a removable 24-page “sketchbook”). Other contributions, like the facsimile reproduction of a 1974 artist’s book by the late Bern Porter or London-based Fiona Banner’s “Top Gun” artist’s project (a 25" x 16" pullout poster), are dynamic gray-scale takes on color originals. Stills from a black-and-white film—Charles Burnett’s 1977 masterpiece Killer of Sheep—are reproduced as part of the regular “100 Frames” feature, and 11 other films serve as inspiration for the songs on the CD by Nina Nastasia, Me Succeeds, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, DJ/rupture, Sam Amidon, The Sand Pebbles, and five others.