La Mesa, CA: Anne Covell, 2017. Hardcover. One of 60 copies. "On January 20th, 2017, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. That same day, the official White House website (whitehouse.gov) began the digital transition to archive and replace Obama’s policies with those of the new administration. Immediately, people began to notice that key issues such as health care, education, and immigration were nowhere to be found. Keyword searches for terms such as “climate change,” “LGBT,” and “civil rights” all returned 404 errors. Even more conspicuously, the Spanish-language version and the disabled-accessible version of the site were no longer available.
Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library that has been archiving webpages since 1996, captured 167 snapshots of whitehouse.gov that day. This book records the last snapshots taken of Obama’s policies before they came down, the 404 errors that followed, as well as the Internet Archive timestamps for when the information was last available and when it disappeared" (Anne Covell).
The first layer of this accordion book reveals text from webpages from whitehouse.gov covering topics like "equal pay", "criminal justice", "climate change", "disabilities", etc. from the Obama era. Each of these pages has a tab at the top edge, which the reader can pull down to reveal the content (or lack thereof) of the same page from the day of Trump's inauguration on January 20, 2017. The contrast is startling. Government webpages once filled with useful, empowering information, were eradicated in a single day. Covell fills these blank spaces with the haunting outlines of book-like shapes to represent a lost library and consequently imparting a feeling of emptiness and loss of hope. The Record presents a powerful visualization of the turmoil that the Trump administration has imposed since its first day in office.
Bound in black and white paper wrappers with title to front cover. Letterpress printed accordion on Masa paper with sumi wash and hand brayering. Housed in grey cardstock case with red twine legal closure to rear.
Anne Covell's work can be found in collections across the world including Columbia University, San Francisco MOMA, RIT, the National Library of Chile, and Yale. She makes paper as well as books and teaches book arts workshops. Her work often address interactions between humans and nature. According to her artists' statement: "I am interested in the human capacity to physically shape environment, to make claim to earth that must inherently be shared, and the subtle, observable ways nature adapts and responds. Through this lens, I attempt create beauty from perceivably ugly acts as an entry for exploring complex human response to transience and decay." Size: 6.5 x 4.25 x .25 inches (closed); 13 x 42.5 x .25 inches (open). Fine.