The Peeps Photo Project book: published 2016
by Jack Lattemann (aka Cascadia Artpost of Olympia, Washington USA) with his co-editor, Colin Scholl (presently living in a California correctional facility, with future plans to live in Washington state). Both are part of the international mailart network.
Wow! Talk about project documentation! This blog entry is my tribute to both of these guys for going above and beyond what I’ve come to expect from participating in a mailart project…. and as a book object, it is truly a labor of love. The day I received it in the mail I almost immediately started reading it to find out how every else had photo-documented their peeps with their own creative take, often letting the miniature PEEPS share in their own life circumstances, and I could not put it down until I’d perused most of it.
Of course, right from the beginning (January 2015) quite a bit of thought and care was taken by Colin and Jack to formulate the PEEPS project: Jack first solicited participants among 30 of his mailart contacts (27 followed through to completion), and he painted hundreds of miniature 1:87 scale plastic people that came in a variety of races, ages, and social classes, etc. He made up 30 packets with 15 to 25 peeps, a toy vehicle, and a little bench or other prop. Jack and Colin created 30 beautiful mailart themed boxes (sized like a cigar box) in which to mail the project elements to us. Examples of complete street scenes in an urban setting were constructed by Colin with little peeps on the set, going about the miniature life as usual, and photographed to give us all inspiration. We were given full reign of how we, ourselves, might choose to pose our peeps; and to construct whatever environment we might conceive, with a September 2015 deadline to submit photos of our scenarios.
Three seasons passed before the September deadline, after which we were to wait for a handmade book documentation of the project. What a surprise it was to me that Jack Lattemann had taken a few classes with aspirations to become a book binder! The long awaited book turned out to be hard bound in gold fabric covered boards (burgundy fabric on the spine), astutely edited (Jack consulted with Colin via mail on editorial decisions), designed and laid out, with fine paper and type choices, full color photographs, etc. all of which makes it a treasure to hold and to have on my book shelf. Using archival quality materials and lots of toner cartridges for the copier, he exceeded $1,000.00 in personal expenses (and didn’t ask us to contribute anything for our book!) So now, Jack Lattemann is truely an experienced book binder after spending over three months on the process: cutting fabric, covers, hinges, and endpapers; hand sewing nine signatures together for each of 35 hand numbered books of the original printing; gluing the block and endpapers onto the cover; and finally placing this block lettered title on each book with a fine sparkling green glitter – “THE PEEPS PHOTO PROJECT”, subtitled, “LIVING THE MINIATURE LIFE”.
The book’s introduction details many of the project details I’ve already mentioned above, and is signed by both editors, Jack Lattemann and Colin Scholl. The book was larger than they both first expected it would be, and perhaps that was why they omitted photo scenarios from their own staging of PEEPS. The editors generously include six chapters by Jennifer Weigel as she had kept a diary about her peeps characters and adventures, submitted as dated entries between January and October 2015. The editorial decision to break up this diary as six chapters interspersed amongst the rest adds a sense of continuity between everyone else’s individual visions, as various peeps story lines string us along until the end, when a kind of collaboration happens between Colin Scholl and Jennifer Weigel.
A special addendum chapter was added after the books had already been bound, due to an unplanned life event with a participant from Lviv, Ukraine. Jack told me he’s considering a small revised edition (a dozen or more) that will incorporate the Lubomyr Tymkiv addendum and a new afterword. He did not receive Lubomyr’s emailed photos until late February, 2016, after Lubomyr had finished almost a year of military service. The peeps traveled with Lubomyr to the front, and were captured in photographs posing with tanks, military tents, machine guns, and the natural elements in the countryside. He included a photo of himself leaning on a camouflaged anti-aircraft weapon. The contrast of the miniature life with the surreality of war, along with Colin Scholl’s sobering account of life in prison, adds a whole other level of substance to The PPP.
International list of mailart pARTicipants:
ARGENTINA: Samuel Montalvetti, CANADA: Reg Cộté, Adrienne Mason, Stewart Charlebois, Mailarta, Carolyn Oord (Kerosene), GERMANY: Eberhard Janke, Jörg Seifert and Jorn Michael, Patrizia (TIC TAC), GREECE: Katerina Nikoltsou, HUNGARY: Torma Cauli, LUXEMBOURG: Fraenz Frisch, UKRAINE: Lubomyr Tymkiv, UNITED KINGDOM: Mail Art Martha, Andrea McNeill, and the U.S.A.: PJM, Gina di Grazia, buZ blurr, Bethany Lee, Jennifer Weigel (including one collaboration with Jonathan Stangroom), Kenneth Brown, Carol Stetser, Sally Wassink, C. Mehrl Bennett, Tallie Jones, Jennifer Utter, John Held Jr., and last but not least, Colin Scholl and Jack Lattemann.