Primitive Press ~ Arkansas
(Michael Peven 1949-2017)


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Michael Peven: "I am endlessly fascinated by the reciprocal relationship that photography has with reality. The way we, as a culture, consider photographs as legitimate representations of existing visual reality. … Photography is the most sophisticated medium of visual information transfer that we have invented. And yet a photograph is just a piece of paper with silver crystals, dye couplers or small droplets of ink put together in such a way as to replicate something that we generally assume is/was real."

The Whole Tooth
(and nothing but ...)

By Michael Peven
Fayetteville, Arkansas: Primitive Press, 2017. Edition of 3 + AP + display copy.

Book: 8 x 11"; four Plexiglas panels. Inkjet prints. Materials: dental floss, clear plastic piano hinges, inkjet transparency film, Plexiglas. Hinged to a Plexiglas cover and back page, string through with dental floss. In slipcase (8.5 x 11.5") of black archival board with transparency film insets.

Michael Peven: "A story about dental issues, losing and replacing teeth. ... On the front and back covers, the floss creates a string sculpture as you open and close the page while the centerfold, which opens from the opposite direction, holds in suspension between the left and right sides of a Panorex of my mouth several years ago. X-rays of my teeth that dangle off the floss as it creates a different string arrangement which collapse or straighten out when the page is opened and closed. So, essentially, when you open and close the book, you are flossing my teeth."

Introduction: "I've never had great teeth. When I was 15, I got braces to correct a gap between #6 & #7 on top and some other minor stuff. Never happened. The gap is still there between those two of the remaining teeth. In my 20's and 30's I was pretty negligent about them. Didn't brush regularly and never flossed, smoked heavily. Never went to the dentist. Not good."
$ 1771

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By Michael Peven
Fayetteville, Arkansas: Primitive Press, 2015. Edition of 27.

Boxed set of three miniature books. Each one sheet book 1.75 x 2.625" closed, 10.5 x 15.75" extended; 36 pages. Archival inkjet prints on Mitsubishi. Maze structure, double sided. Belly band closure for each book. Presented in custom made archival printed box with removal lid. Signed and numbered by the artist on the interior lid.

Michael Peven: "A boxed set of 3 books, Statutorio, La Strada and Rovine et Reletti. … One side of each book reveals a full image when unfolded while the other side features 36 images, one on each 'page' as you peruse the book.

"The books are oriented so that they can be viewed page by page while they are being unfolded until the viewer reveals a large page that displays all of the images at once on one side and the singular image on the other side. The maze fold is designed so that the books have to be re-oriented at each intersection. Turning left or right, up or down or over as the fold dictates, involving the viewer on a physical level with the book as they negotiate the pages.

"The images are from time spent in Italy and Paris during the summer of 2015. I concentrated on photographing street life, ancient ruins and relics, and figurative statuary.
Statutorio and La Strada are full color front and back while Rovine et Reletti is black and white."

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Bird's Bar Mitzvah
By Michael Peven
Fayetteville, Arkansas: Primitive Press, 2014. Edition of 33.

4 x 5.75" closed, 48 x 5.75" extended; 12 pages. Archival Ultrachrome inkjet prints on Epson Enhanced Matte Paper. Bound in paper boards of Strathmore or Crescent mounting board. In paper slipcase of same material.

Michael Peven: "Bird's Bar Mitzvah is a story about how I came to love jazz music and my encounters with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the great jazz musician Thelonious Monk as well as my Confirmation many years later at Charlie Parker’s grave.

"The front (color) side of the book is stories about my first experiences with jazz music leading up to the time I met Thelonious Monk (and he fell into my lap) and then my trip to see Charlie Parker's grave. It's illustrated with images of me morphing into Charlie Parker as a background to the story with a number of other images of me, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Monk, Parker and Parker's grave and monument. Then there are 2 'ribbons' of images featuring jazz album covers that are folded into the pages and attached but can be 'unfolded' in order to see the writing and images.

"The 'back' (black and white) side is images from my Bar Mitzvah album (got my first jazz album for my Bar Mitzvah...hence the title) with a story on 'ribbons' about going to Hebrew school, preparing for the Bar Mitzvah and the party the images are from. These ribbons have text on both sides and are 'tucked in' so that they can be opened and read. Hebrew lettering runs over the images and is the 'Haftorah' portion that I read for the ceremony."


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Cradle of Civilization
By Michael Peven
Fayetteville, Arkansas: Primitive Press, 2011. Second Edition of 21.

8.5 x 6" closed, extends to 72"; 16 pages. Accordion fold. Inkjet printed using archival inks on enhanced matte paper. Gray paper covers with title on green spine.

Michael Peven: "[This book features] imagery from various sources including iconic war images from Viet Nam, WWII, the Spanish Civil War, movie posters, and Carnival in Rio, while Fred Astaire and Ronald and Nancy Reagan dance in and out of the scroll. Text from the Sun Tzu's Art of War is juxtaposed over and around the images."
$50 (Last copy)


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Slugs and Roses
An Essay on Beauty and Survival

By Michael Peven
Fayetteville, Arkansas: Primitive Press, 2008.
Second Edition, 11 copies.

4 x 4.8" closed; 132" extended; 46 pages. Double-sided accordion. Ink jet printed. Laid in lightweight letter-fold case with title scripted in silver on spine, all housed in lightweight black paper slipcase. Images downloaded into Photoshop for slight manipulation and then imported into Freehand for sequencing, text, and layout. Printed using an Epson 4000 printer and Ultrachrome inks. Original edition of Slugs and Roses printed in 2000.

One side of this concertina fold book features images of slugs and roses with text overlay. Images of roses have text regarding slugs and slug images have information regarding roses. On the reverse side of the concertina the rose and slug images continue but the text discusses beauty and survival.

Judith Hoffberg (umbrella Volume 24, No. 2, August, 2001): "... a beautifully boxed full-color bookwork in a concertina printed on both sides, generated from original digital images made with a Sony Mavica camera. These are pictures of actual slugs and roses that grow in the artist’s backyard. The texts deal with survival and growth. On one side are the desperate needs of all of us to for ecological emergencies, and on the opposite pages are the stories of Easter Island and its invasion by humans and its degradation. On the back are facts and figures about slugs, a true biological lesson, as well as a description of roses and their history. The text as usual in all the artist’s books often times seems obscured - you really have to work hard to save the earth! "

Michael Peven: "The book expands to 11' when opened and slugs can stretch to 11 times their body length."

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Open...Heart Surgery
By Michael Peven
Fayetteville, Arkansas: Primitive Press, 2006.
Standard edition of 49; Deluxe edition of 7.

Standard: 7.254 x 8.5",14 pages. Handmade, paperback with stiff board, inkjet prints on enhanced matte paper with waxed linen thread, craft wire, staples, and PVA. Pages open in a variety of ways. Some are held together with steri strips and staples. Bound on left and right sides, pages open in the middle by a series of increasingly more difficult manipulations.

Deluxe: 7.254 x 8.5",14 pages. Bound in leather. Hardcover version. Handmade, paperback with stiff board.

Michael Peven: “Open…Heart Surgery details my heart surgery in 2002. It's kind of a ‘primer.’ With pages that open in a variety of ways it reveals my chest going from healthy and hairy progressively to more injured with an obvious scar against little hair to being held together with steri-strips and staples against a naked chest. Then through an x-ray and angiogram into the heart itself and beyond."
$500 standard (Last Copy)
$1,000 deluxe (Last Copy)




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Drive by Shootings
By Michael Peven
Fayetteville, Arkansas: Primitive Press, 2004. Open Edition.

4 x 5.5" closed, 60" extended; 15 images. Accordion fold vertical structure in postcard souvenir album format. Images on one side only. Wrap fold with tuck in closure. Ink jet printed.

Art rather than violence: the drive by in this case is that of a traveler in a car; the shootings are photographic shots. The postcard-type pages (image only, the reverse is blank) show roadside attractions and sights in the (mostly) Western US — the Crazy Horse Monument in Custer, South Dakota; the Jimenez Sculpture in Albuquerque, New Mexico. All photographs taken during Peven’s travels from 2001-2003.


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Sold titles by Michael Peven:  

Manmade Wonders
By Michael Peven.
Fayetteville, Arkansas: Primitive Press, 1979. Edition of 250.

Set of six books, 11.5 x 15.5 cm. each. Matchbook construction. Paper wrapper, staple bound. Offset printed in color. Signed but unnumbered.

A set of six oversize styled matchbooks feature well known US landmarks and monuments on the front flip cover. Peven also calls this set "Snatches." This sexual wordplay hints at the subtext, here laid out not beneath the surface but under the (matchbook) covers, that suggests a less than Puritan take of some of US's more famous and revered erections.






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Page last update: 11.01.17


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