an interview with former scholar Ben Denzer
Ben completed his residency in the last few months and he has continued to rent at The Center to complete several projects. I though it would be interesting to hear more about his year at CBA and what his plans are for the future. ~Roni Gross
Roni: What did you learn or come in contact with that had the biggest effect on your work?
Ben: It’s been a real privilege to have access to the Center’s workspace and
community. I’ve learned so much from seeing what people around me are working on and from asking questions and getting advice on processes and techniques. The physical space, the materials, and the tools have also influenced what I’ve made. I’ve really enjoyed using the hot stamping equipment and type. It was great to have 24 hour access to a workspace.
R: Has your work changed over the year, and if so, how?
B: Before the residency, I had only made a handful of books and case-bound books were still a mystery to me. I was anxious to make hard covers because they really feel like books. By the end of the residency, I think at last count I’ve made over 530 books.
R: Can you take me through the process of your thinking in terms of one of the pieces you’ve made?
B: I came to the residency wanting to start a small press that publishes “catalogs.” I’m interested in books because they are both dense content and physical objects; simultaneously sculpture and catalog, singular containing multitudes. I wanted to play with these dualities. I named the press Catalog Press. I see a catalog as a container for visual information.
The first edition I made at the Center was a Borges short story titled THE WITNESS. One word per page, each in a unique typeface, the book was composed from scans of old type books. I risograph printed the pages in two inks and casebound an edition of 50. This took a long time. It’s laborious to develop, design, set, and print content.
I knew I wanted to produce a large amount of books, to leave the residency with a large pile of objects, so I started to think of what already exists as content, what exists as pages. I made a list and started binding, making editions of dollar bills, fortune cookie fortunes, napkins, Splenda packets, American Cheese, etc.
This interview was conducted in May of 2019 by artist and letterpress instructor Roni Gross.