The Radiant Republic, 2019

Artist book; Letterpress printed from linoleum and polymer plates, edition of 50

Dimensions: 10.5" x 6.5" x 4.25" (closed); Dimensions vary (opened); 10" x 11.5" (pamphlets)

Sarah Bryant

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

I am a book artist. My book projects have in common a repeated effort to reframe or reorganize existing information in order to pose new questions and challenge assumptions. I work in book form because of the natural relationship between the book and the communication of information. Our visual vocabulary developed simultaneously with the development of the book. They have worked together for over a thousand years to encapsulate information, to preserve it and to pass it forward. I am interested in the simplicity of diagrammatic language, which allows for slight variations in line, color and format to describe a great variety of different systems; the movement of peoples, changes in climate, the progress of disease. This flexibility speaks to our need to connect, to find patterns, and to place ourselves in a world we can understand and explain.

The Radiant Republic is an artist book and suite of prints about ethics and urban planning. The text at the core of the project is a city-building narrative composed entirely of language excerpted from Plato’s Republic (c. 380 BCE) and Le Corbusier’s The Radiant City (1933 CE). In these original texts, separated by more than two thousand years, Plato and Le Corbusier each describe city plans which prescribe morality and ethics. These works are revered, but they are also deeply troubling, advocating the destruction of existing cities, the separation of children from their families, and the connection between city planning and warfare.

In the artist book The Radiant Republic, a five-part narrative describes the life cycle of an imagined city using unedited language woven together from the original sources. Each part is bound separately as a pamphlet, and contains one section of an interlocking landscape with no fixed beginning or end. Platonic solids, a set of five shapes made up of equilateral faces set at equal angles, feature heavily in the printed imagery. Since ancient times, these shapes have been held up as a physical manifestation of perfection of form. But one cannot create a perfect object, and one cannot build a perfect city. This is a book about the voices we value, the ideals they espouse, and the consequences of venerating their views. The Radiant Republic is housed in an enclosure made of wood and glass containing weathered platonic solids cast in cement.

Letterpress printed from linoleum and polymer plates in an edition of 50 copies in 2019. Papers include arches text and handmade Belgian Flax from the Morgan Conservatory. Box materials include Laser-cut birch plywood, cast cement, glass, and Dubletta book cloth. Prints related to this project were produced between 2017 and 2018.