We are now deep into production on Esopus 23, which will hit subscribers’ doorsteps the last week of April and arrive at bookstores in early May. With contributions from 35 artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, game designers, archivists, museum guards, and others, the issue is an absolute record-breaker: At 254 pages, it’s the largest, most complex Esopus ever, utilizing 15 different paper stocks; incorporating multiple die-cuts, embossing, metallic inks, and specialty varnishes; and featuring a number of removable inserts, ranging from posters to collectible artworks.
It was necessary to create a package this exciting in order to house the thrilling material the issue contains. Esopus 23 includes stunning artists’ projects by Marilyn Minter (a brand-new series of work—including a removable insert—incorporating metallic and translucent specialty papers); Mickalene Thomas (a mesmerizing collection of collaged images created for the issue including die-cuts, embossing, and specialty varnishes—and another detachable insert); Karo Akpokiere (a beautiful series of drawings, perforated for easy removal by readers, by the Lagos- and Berlin-based artist dealing with the challenges related to moving between two distinctly different cultures); Jody Wood (an in-depth look at the artist’s most recent iteration of her “Beauty in Transition” project, in which she provides hair-care and therapeutic services to homeless-shelter residents and their caregivers); Chuck Kelton (the master printer for photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark and Danny Lyon creates his own series of dramatic photogram “landscapes,” including a stand-alone, frameable print); and Stefan Kürten (an exquisite series of drawings incorporating complex folds related to mirrored elements within the images themselves).
As always, the issue presents contributions from a range of other creative disciplines. Esopus 23 begins with a brilliant new long-form essay on the value of literature by the acclaimed Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard (My Struggle), offered in the issue as a removable pamphlet. For our eighth subscriber invitational, “Local News,” screenwriter Hampton Fancher (Blade Runner) wrote two engrossing film treatments (inspired by readers’ submissions of local news stories) that are featured in the issue along with a conversation with Fancher about his creative process. The issue also includes an in-depth interview with Raphael van Lierop, the founder of Hinterland Studio, the independent video game developer responsible for groundbreaking survivalist game The Long Dark, along with visuals featuring a range of never-before-seen concept art for the game (as well as a 24" x 36" poster). Esopus 23 offers new installments of several of our regular series, including “100 Frames,” showcasing entrancing stills from The Adventures of Prince Achmed, the pioneering 1926 animated feature directed by Lotte Reiniger, and introduced here by Oscar-winning filmmaker and historian John Canemaker; “Guarded Opinions,” which provides insightful commentaries on artworks from the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia by two of its guards, Joseph Klimczak Jr. and Fantasia Turner; and “Modern Artifacts,” our long-running collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art Archives that here presents a number of previously unpublished photographs and other documents related to 60 years’ worth of events, installations, concerts, and performances in MoMA’s iconic garden (introduced by Chief Archivist Michelle Elligott). The issue is rounded out by Lost in Music, a graphic novel by artist George Cochrane (produced in collaboration with his 12-year-old daughter, Fiamma Cochrane, as well as artist Richard Nonas and author William Sutton), and a poignant collection of over 100 anonymous photos from Peter Cohen, who has assembled one of the most significant archives of vernacular photography in the world.
Finally, Esopus 23 closes with a themed audio CD compilation. For it, Esopus asked 13 musical acts—Kristin Andreassen, The Big Bright, Gabriel Birnbaum, Dollshot, Colin Gilmore, The Kickstand Band, Anthony LaMarca, Jo Lawry, Lemolo, Darren Solomon, Trees Take Ease, Grant Widmer, and YC the Cynic—to use a “close call” from their life, ranging from near-death experiences to missed romantic opportunities, as inspiration for a song.
UPCOMING ESOPUS 23 EVENTS:
Wednesday, May 11: Esopus 23 launches at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Monday, May 16, and Wednesday, May 18: Two nights featuring films by and about legendary screenwriter Hampton Fancher, including a screening of the director's cut of Blade Runner, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.
Saturday, May 21: An evening with My Struggle author Karl Ove Knausgaard at BookCourt in Brooklyn
Wednesday, June 8: A night of “Close Calls” (featuring contributors from the Esopus 23 CD) at National Sawdust in Brooklyn.
PHOTO: Artist Marilyn Minter (right) approves proofs for Spray On, the project she created for Esopus 23.