Summer 2017 Resident: Shoshana Kessler

Shoshana Kessler is a printer and writer, based in Oxford, U.K. She has previously studied at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Oxford. In 2015, she, alongside colleague Beth Sparks, established Hurst Street Press, an independent printing press and publishing house. Hurst Street Press is committed to publishing new and experimental works of art and literature, using traditional techniques of production. Their publications include IRIS magazine and The Divers, a first collection of poetry. The Press also runs events and exhibitions alongside their publications, previously exhibiting at Modern Art Oxford and OVADA, a visual art development space.

Shoshana has written for various publications, including IRIS magazine, The London Magazine and the Oxonian Review. She also works as an editorial assistant for The White Review.


Project Description:

My proposed project is an interpretation of Hope Mirrlees’s modernist masterpiece, Paris, A Poem. Paris was written in the summer of 1919, and typeset by the Hogarth Press, Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s publishing house. An exploration of the city in a single day, I intend to re-trace the route and undertake a creative re-setting of the poem.

Paris, A Poem acts as a visual and written representation of a very specific time: it records the theatre, the adverts, small bursts of conversation, and the general atmosphere of the city in the wake of World War I. I’m interested in the apposition of contemporary Paris with archival remnants from the early twentieth century; looking at which artworks and advertisements have been remembered, whilst recalling those obscured by the progression of taste.

During the residency, I plan to employ traditional methods of production to create the piece. This will involve, for example, using old typefaces as an instrument to investigate the everyday language of a city. Correspondingly, I wish to use modern technology (the internet, mixed-media, film, sound recordings) to showcase the history of both Hope Mirrlees and 1919 Paris.

Alongside this project, I hope to run bookbinding and stitching workshops, as well as readings. These will be offered as a way to encounter the project beyond the page, equipping those interested with new skills, and ensuring that these old techniques are continued.