Conflu:x Press ~ California
(Tania Baban)


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Tania Baban: "An an artist's book, the form of the book becomes an integral and dynamic part of the work and of the reader's experience. Artist's books are not books about art—they are art expressed through book form, involving the reader actively in the viewing process. The formats and materials of artist's books often transcend the ordinary and the expected. Some are in codex, scroll form, or use accordion folds. Some may alter the typography or use creative binding techniques and materials. Others may not use words in a literal way or have any words at all. But all artist's books involve the senses to make readers change their ideas about what a book is and does."

Poem by Regina O'Melveny
Prescott, Arizona: Conflu:x Press, 2008. Edition of 4.

8 x 6.5"; 3 folios. Digitally printed on Canson Miteinte. Covers of Thai paper with plant inclusion. Modified bandoleer title label. Laid in hardcover protective wrap covered in black Momi paper with iridescent specks. Cover embellished with a handpainted and hand-embossed firefly. Set inside custom clamshell box covered in black Japanese book cloth. Title label tipped on front cover. Leather clasp with loop closure. Design and production by Tania Baban.

Tania Baban: "The poem is a dark remembering of connections to earth, nature, and family. The poem is presented in three deckle-edged folios (one folio for each section of the poem).

As well as being a poet and a writer, Regina O’Melveny is also an assemblage artist. Her poetry and prose have been anthologized and has appeared in The Bellingham Review, rattapallax, The Sun, The LA Weekly, Solo and The Wild Duck Review. She won first prize in the John Foster West National Poetry Award Contest judged by Marge Piercy, first prize in the Cleveland State University Poetry Contest, and she was the 2007 Poetry Award Winner for Conflu:x Press where her work was published as an artist’s book designed by Tania Baban.

Once I saw fireflies in a Mexican valley dark as ink,
my friend's voice flickers, a cool jar of light
thirty years after she rode the Mexicali-Ciudad de Mexico train.

The night sky mirrored their sparks with stars, above the train
that I also rode decades ago, my face pressed to the jostling window.
Stars enough to cast the train's shadow rushing

blackly beside us like water, knuckling over stones and scrub
and the glint of small creatures' eyes that watched us go by,
we who were spectral and inconsequential on this earth. ...

$595 (Last Copy)

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Conflux Press/Tania Baban: Sold and out of print titles:  
A Violence of Season
Poem by Judith Pacht
Marina del Rey, California: Conflu:x Press, 2005. Edition of 8.

5 x 2.75"; 12 pages. Digitally printed on Canson. Bound in decorative Thai paper. Front cover debossed with dried leaf arrangement tipped on. Laid in a wrap of Thai paper, lined with felt fabric, fastened with an ultra suede thong. Design and production by Tania Baban .

Tania Baban: "This book was commissioned by Judith Pacht to commemorate the loss of her daughter and feature Judith's poetic elegy."

The dried leaves on the cover are from the poet's garden, adding a nostalgic touch to the overall presentation. The Thai paper and felt fabric wrap was created to give the sense of a nurturing blanket. The illustrations were created from the original woodcut images made by the poet's daughter. There are also photos of the poet's daughter Jane Siegel, [August 8, 1955 to August 2, 1972] and excerpts from her scrapbook.

Judith Pacht's book Summer Hunger won PEN's 2011 Southwest Book Award for Poetry. Her first poetry collection, the chapbook Falcon, was published by Conflu:x Press in 2004.

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Prayer for Daybreak
GOD Protect Me from the Evil Eye
By Tania Baban
Marina del Rey, California: Conflux Press, 2013. Edition of 4.

9.5 x 5.5"; two gatefolds, opens to approximately 20". Soft-white Stonehenge, black Canson, silver and gold metallic two-sided decorative papers. Text inkjet printed. Text cut outs tipped on book pages with added collage elements. Bound with two separate book board panels covered in black and white bookcloth. Inset window on front board with a glass evil eye ornament from Turkey. Exposed spine, sewn with gold and black ornamental beads from Spain. Laid in box covered in black bookcloth with added ornamental element of evil eye made of cut outs, which have been covered with Dupioni silk or gold cover stock. Closure of handmade leather latch with braided black linen and gold threads loop.

Tania Baban: "Prayer for Daybreak: GOD Protect Me from the Evil Eye" is based on surah Al-Falaq 113 (The Dawn, chapter 113 from the holy Qur'an). This is a prayer for the superstitious to protect against the evil eye and black magic, but is most commonly used to ward off intentional as well as unintentional envy from others.

"I was inspired to use this particular prayer when I thought about the theme 'Superstition.' In Baghdad and the Middle East, where I grew up, it is the one of the most common prayers for superstitious people. But almost everyone knows it and invokes it – even those who aren’t religious. …

"I incorporated an actual evil eye glass charm on the cover of my book. This amulet is more than just a good luck charm – it provides the owner protection when worn in the form of jewelry on the person or hung on walls and doors of homes. The black and white bookcloth symbolizes the light vs. the dark or good vs. evil. Because Surah 113 is from the Qur'an, which often features heavy calligraphic illumination (similar to old bibles), I chose to enhance my book with traditional geometric/architectural Arabic designs and patterns, embellished with metallic inks. I use a gatefold format; the prayer is set on a dual-language centerspread with Arabic mirrored by an English version (based on several translations). I end the book with another evil eye symbol, the Hamsa Hand, popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. As a graphic designer and a book artist, my tendency is to try to make everything very precise, especially coloring and cutting, etc. However, because this book is inspired by the old, hand-written and illuminated Islamic manuscripts, this is one instance where I
actually enjoyed having the book not look too mechanical and perfect!"

Tania Baban, A brief history of the Evil Eye: "The evil eye symbol was first recorded by the Mesopotamians about 5,000 years ago in cuneiform on clay tablets. But it may have actually originated as early as the Upper Paleolithic age. It is possible that glass evil eyes were commercially produced some 3,000 years ago in Anatolia, Turkey. The color blue is often associated with the charm and evokes a connection to cooling, cleansing water. The image is found frequently in Muslim cultures as well as Jewish and Christian and some Buddhist and Hindu societies. Even among some Native Americans, a person who stares fixedly at a pregnant woman or child, or is too admiring, may produce a malicious effect on their lives, whether or not by intent! Some form of the superstitious term evil eye appears in most languages."

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The Street of the Poet
By Jim Natal
Marina del Rey:Conflux Press, 2012. Edition of 8.

5.5 x 11" closed, opens to 22"; 12 pages. Pages are Stonehenge paper and decorative Marble paper. End sheets are Lokta paper. Font is Humanist. Iridescent and gold inks. Book and box in Japanese book cloth. Book laid in drop spine box with twine and cloth knob closure.

Tania Baban: "My book, The Street of the Poet, based on a poem by Jim Natal, is influenced and inspired by Islamic illuminated manuscripts and codices. I wanted my artist book to reflect those elaborately illuminated folios and to make a connection to the manuscripts destroyed in the 12th century sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols, when the books of the Grand Library were burned and tossed into the Tigris River. But I also wanted to tie it forward to the 2007 car bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street, Baghdad's street of the booksellers. ...

"The three-dimensional Arabic title of my artist book was made to look like it came from an ancient ruin or frieze. I worked the inside [of] the book to give it a look of simple hand-done illumination and stylized calligraphy; this process truly gave me the sense and realization of the enormity and the scale of the incredible task of writing and illuminating something like the Koran. The medallion designs used through the book are replicated from Koranic verses, but instead of using Arabic words for numerals (as is normal), I incorporated the Arabic word 'books' into their design.

"In two places inside the book I have used gold letters intertwined and floating on the page to reflect lines from the source poem:
When books become smoke, the words tend to drift. They crumble into
vowels and consonants, litters find the upper atmosphere and jetstream
global distances…

"To symbolize the fires – ancient and modern – that consumed these irreplaceable books, the edges of some of the pages as well as the English title on the cover of the book have burnt edges.This was a very emotional step for the artist as it was difficult to burn a beautiful book, and to control the flame so it didn't consume too much of the paper or ruin the page.

"The gold, red, and black marble paper I chose to use inside the book conveys a mix of ink, blood, and gold representing the precious manuscript and the souls that were lost."

Colophon: "In March 2007 a massive car bomb was detonated on Baghdad's al-Mutanabbi Street. Overall 30 people were killed and 100 were injured. The bomb targeted the historic heart of Baghdad's intellectual and literary community. Named for the famed 10th century classical Arab poet and known as 'the street of booksellers'. al-Mutanabbi Street is a legendary locale in Baghdad, a winding lane filled with bookstores, outdoor book stalls, small presses, and cafes where books have been sold, made, and discussed for centuries."

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Page last update: 02.18.19


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