"En la orilla azul del silencio"
by Andres Aguirre
Sabado magazine, Santiago, Chile
The exclusive editions of artists' books combined with texts by great authors, in which books function as objects of art, made for the admiration and aesthetic delight for whomever may view them, are scarce in Chile. The high price of artists' limited edition books means that few people ever see such publications. For example, one book found in a rare bookstore in Providencia, and edited by Poligrafa in the eighties, is the story by Gabriel Márquez, El Buque de Wilfredo Lam, valued at approximately three million pesos. The other, brought to us by the publishing house Contrapunto, is a book of photographs by Helmut Newton that came with its own stand designed by Philip Stark. This was not on sale in bookstores and was only able to be viewed at the publishing house where one of the copies was displayed. It was valued at around about a million and a half pesos. There certainly are differences, but similarly, United States artist Mary Heebner recently visited Chile to present one of her copies of On the Blue Shore of Silence, to the Fundación Neruda.
This is a selection of twelve poems by Pablo Neruda, with the general theme of the sea. Each poem is accompanied by a watercolor print from paintings made by Heebner. This is a bilingual edition, with translations by one of the most important translators of both Neruda and Borges, the Scottish writer Alastair Reid. It is a beautiful and important work in which Heebner has shown her energy and talent completely. As an admirer of Neruda, and inspired by his home in Isla Negra and by the same coastal landscape, Heebner created watercolor prints tinged with blues and indigos, that were inspired by the sea and the ship's figureheads (mascarones collected by Neruda for his Isla Negra home). Silver and bronze powders overlay the blues adding ground earthen pigments and minerals to the work. It is not only the texture of the linen paper Heebner makes herself - which brings a beauty and a special shine to her creations - but it is the cadence, the resonance of the poems together with the images that deeply and movingly reflect the poetic spirit and geography of the Pacific.
The literary agent Carman Balcells authorized permission to use the Neruda poems in their original Spanish for which Heebner gave a copy to her and to the Fundación Neruda. And so this is how one of an edition of fifty came into the hands of the fundacion where the general public can now view it. On the Blue Shore of Silence is Mary Heebner's fifth artists' book, but it is the first instance in which she uses text (poetry in this case) that is not her own. The energy that she puts into her paintings, the intensity of her work and her infinite enthusiasm, portends more work of this caliber. Notwithstanding, she needs to sell at least nineteen of these books in order to cover the enormous costs of creating this edition; she has already sold eleven, leaving only eight to go. Whoever is able; whomever has the money - $3500.00USD - ought to think seriously about acquiring this book.
- Andrés Aguirre
the original Spanish text
the Blue Shore of Silence,
poems of the sea by Pablo Neruda