Incident in Deseret

By Philip Zimmermann Tucson, Arizona: Spaceheater Editions, 2014. Edition of 30.

8 x 8"; 30 pages. Printed by archival inkjet on uncoated oatmeal Speckletone paper made by The French Paper Company. Drum-leaf binding. Signed and numbered in silver ink on the back board by the artist.

Prospectus: "The book is a slightly off-kilter investigation into the nature of faith and its relationship to scientific evidence. The interior narrative text is relatively straightforward but the covers hold other informational text in a circular or spiral manner that is not conventional.

"Created as a series of two-page board-book spreads that minimize the visual distraction of a traditional 'gutter'. The edges of the book cover have text that goes around the entire book and includes some text that is set in a type face that is called Deseret, created by Mormons in the 1860s and abandoned after a few years."

Philip Zimmermann: "On January 5th, 2014, seven book artists were in Salt Lake City to attend the national conference of the College Book Art Association at the University of Utah. A Nissan Armada SUV was rented and the group traveled to Robert Smithson's canonic land-art piece The Spiral Jetty, about an hour or two out of town in the nearby great Salt Lake. To commemorate the visit, it was decided that each of us who were there that day would create a book with the Spiral Jetty as theme, and complete it within one year – or earlier if possible. The only restriction would be that all books in the series would conform to a common dimension, 8 inches by 8 inches. Incident at Deseret is my contribution. The other participants are Clifton Meador, Karen Zimmermann, Robbin Ami Silverberg, April Sheridan, Daniel Mellis and Elisabeth Long.

"I am fascinated by faith, and how so many religious people throughout the world are able to ignore what many would think of as logical thinking in order to make the leap to belief. In some ways, I admire that ability as it suggests a certain innocence and magical thinking that I am not able to summon up. The danger is when those folks start to think that they are the only people in the world able to communicate with god and travel the true path to heaven. I think of the location of the Spiral Jetty and Salt Lake itself as ground-zero for the Church of Latter Day Saints and the Mormon faith. Although my book uses terminology that comes from the LDS belief (picked due to the location of the Spiral Jetty) I could have just as easily have used nomenclature from any number of other world religions. Stylistically, I think of this book as the meeting of Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville with The Book of Mormon. Deseret is the original Mormon name for Utah and was originally comprised of a large section of the American West that included not only Utah (and the Great Salt Lake where the Spiral Jetty is) but also large portions of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Brigham Young's petitions to the US Congress to recognize this huge new state were turned down numerous times and eventually became what is now the current, much smaller, state of Utah.

"Deseret was also a language and an alphabet system that was developed but never widely used during the 19th century by the Mormons. The title also gives a little nod to a classic western book that I was impressed with when I read it in high school, The Ox-bow Incident and another book (and famous short film) called An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge." "Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, located at Rozel Point peninsula on the northeastern shore of Great Salt Lake. With the assistance of a team operating dump trucks, a tractor, and a front loader, Smithson created the sculpture in three weeks in April 1970. Over six thousand tons of black basalt rocks and earth were formed into a coil 1,500 feet long and 15 feet wide that winds counterclockwise off the shore into the water. In 1999, through the generosity of the artist Nancy Holt, Smithson’s widow, and the Estate of Robert Smithson, the artwork was donated to Dia Art Foundation."