William Hunt — Tempting Fate

An artist book we developed together with British Artist William Hunt.

In his performances, William merges comic relief with actual physical danger: He plays a piano that smashes his body, is submerged in a tank, or covers his head in wet plaster, a harmonica between his teeth. We agreed it would be great to bring a performative element into his book too, and William wanted us to create an “awkward object” for him, something that confounded readers and contravenes their expectations.

So in fact Tempting Fate is not really a book at all, despite its book-like appearance and a selection of texts and illustrations by Sally O’Reilly. It is a folded life-size body print of the artist himself, his contour painfully blasted out of a silkscreen with a pressure washer.

We also played with a graphic awkwardness in the layout, playing with traditional book typography and navigation, printing a hair to help finding from one page to another. And we asked ourselves what would be a totally unlikely colour for the inside, given the bright red cover. And then we used that colour, a dark, vibrant purple.

The performative and comic element of the publication was folded back into the exhibition: William had placed a copy on a pedestal with a timer-delayed fan that would turn on a short while after somebody had approached it…

For Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2008.
16.8×23.5 cm, 28pp. Or 132×84cm, 2pp.