Books As
Aesthetic Objects
A unique collection of contemporary
rare books The core of the original
gift to FAU in 1998

Pistol/Pistil

By Ann Kalmbach & Tatana Kellner
1997

pistol/pistil; Artist book; ann kalmbach; tatana kellner;  1997(Click to view larger image)

Botanical Ballistics is bound in wooden boards held by leather and bullet casings. This book plays graphically and etymologically with the language of agriculture and the language of ordnance.

The message of the book points primarily to the irony that many words of vegetative growth are identical to words of military destruction, beginning with "shell" (as in peas and in guns), but immediately reminding the viewer that war alone is not responsible for all the damage inflicted on the environment: the first page details pesticide use: Farmers- 2 lbs per acre, Homeowners- 10 lbs per acre, Golf Courses- 15 lbs per acre; and the later reproduction of a news clipping reports on a woman killed by lightning in her garlic patch.

Other cognates, like "mushroom" and "squash," are illustrated by razor thin sections of actual dried vegetables in their own envelopes, by lists of 112 varieties of tomatoes surrounding a sardonic folder about using fertilizer to make bombs, and by detailed illustration of the title pair, "pistol," and "pistil." Through ironic comparisons in language and image the book presents the innocence and productive qualities of nature next to the increasingly antithetical creations of human beings.

Judith Klau