Extra-cultural reviews by synaesthetes, symbolists, and strangers.
An interview with Brendan Schweda about the new Zar & Whymper book:
In this case, you get Riddled with Spots, an unusual art book/ metaphysical poem, by Zar & Whymper, from A. Keck Press. At first glance, it seems like a small collection of quirky and slightly puzzling set of visual moments. Further meditation (either transcendental or literary in variety) reveals a serious lesson in ways of seeing and interpreting works of art. This is one of those pieces that really sneaks up on you. The author is a bit of a trickster, so I decided to contact the publisher, Brendan Schweda, to see if he could shed any more light on this oddly enticing text.
Viktor Tar: Mr. Schweda, thank you for joining us this fine virtual evening. Before we get down to details, can you tell us a little bit about A. Keck Press? What does the name mean?
Mr. Schweda: A. Keck Press is named after the elusive “aether bunny,” Aloysius Keck. In reality, Keck is a whimsical character that I illustrated several years ago. In fantasy, he is a pilgrim, in perpetual pursuit of his identity. His tale is yet to be released, but for me, Keck represents both visual art and my interest in compelling narratives. In short, A. Keck Press publishes art books that aim to inspire.
Viktor Tar: Do you have any upcoming projects on the horizon?
Mr. Schweda: Our next release (due out this month) is an esoteric art book about the meaning of the days of the week, called The Order of the Days. Seven artists were selected to create images based on the ancient & mythological history of the days. Several other projects are in development.
Viktor Tar: What sort of work is A. Keck Press looking for?
Mr. Schweda: Keck is looking for disciplined art, collaboration, self-reflection, inspiration, exploration, and the posing of provoking questions.
Viktor Tar: Do you accept submissions, and if so, where can people send them?
Mr. Schweda: Submissions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Viktor Tar: Now, down to brass tacks….
How did you first come across this piece of work, and what was your first impression?
Mr. Schweda: I have been aware of the work of the variously talented artist, Sarah Zar, for many years. Riddled with Spots is just the latest in a long line of her creations. My first impression was one of satisfaction. Although this is Zar’s first art book, it challenges the reader/viewer in ways that I have come to anticipate and appreciate.
Viktor Tar: When I read the fine print, I noticed that one of the contributors seems to be deceased. How does that work exactly?
Mr. Schweda: In general, just as author/artist and reader/viewer are displaced from each other in time & space, so were the collaborators of Riddled with Spots. The only other thing I’ll say is that Ms. Zar informed me that Mr. Whymper was a challenging person to reach.
Viktor Tar: Francis Picabia once wrote, “Our heads are round so our thoughts can change direction.” …And that they do, in this deceptively sparse text. Riddled with Spots is one of those books where I start seeing tons of lateral symbolic connections. They seem too coincidental to be unintentional, but when I really begin to unravel them, I start to feel a bit like a lunatic. Like, nobody would ever think this way. I must be on the wrong track. But it all points to something I can almost put my finger on… While not exactly in riddle format, this text certainly begs decoding. Do you have any advice for those approaching Riddled with Spots without a formal education?
Mr. Schweda: Take your time, read both text & images aloud, and don’t hesitate to repeat. This book is generously packed with symbolic connections that may become more apparent with multiple readings.
Viktor Tar: Is it wrong that my inner Dadaist wants to use this as a conceptual coloring book?
Mr. Schweda: Color your heart out.
Viktor Tar: Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about this book or your press?
Mr. Schweda: I am thrilled about the release of Riddled with Spots and invite you all to follow the trajectory of our forthcoming work at www.akeckpress.com.
Viktor Tar: Well, there we have it. Thank you for your time, and we look forward to reading your next books!
About Viktor Tar: Viktor is a luddite and disluminary from Athens, in upstate NY. He is currently working on his next book of poetry, Handweaving With Fates. He enjoys interviewing authors and reviewing books, and invites writers to reach out with inquiries by connecting on Patreon and Instagram.