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Project Statement

by F. Deschamps

The Return of the Slapstick Papyrus is a visual detective novel which addresses issues concerning imagery and power. The volume contains 132 pages, 87 photographs, 17 odd-plot twists, and 39 funny parts. The jacket copy gives some ideas as to the content and where I wanted to go with it: “In 1998, just before the Eat the Rich Campaign, Rogue Savage is hired by the sinister Doctor Francisco to trace a mysterious large bird. Rogue’s twin brother Rusty, the notorious Egyptologist, disappears. The lovely and intelligent Professor Katherine, mistress of many languages, will guide and perhaps teach Rogue the mystery of the shadows behind the Sigma Parlors. This masterful tale of intrigue and suspense often appears to go nowhere and eventually does.” Again, as with Life in a Book, my purpose is to treat serious ideas in an entertaining manner. The book grapples with issues concerning the power struggle between the First World and the Developing World. The culminating insight and the central message of the book is that all power is based on separation. The key to the narrative is the Slapstick Papyrus, a document of 2000 year old jokes, which serves as a visual index to the entire story since all the drawings in the papyrus are based on photographs in the book. The hieroglyph is the perfect symbol for a visual artists’ book which uses imagery to create meaning, much as any ideograph does. Since I can remember, I have wanted to tell a story with images and photographs. This goes back to reading the illustrated Tintin books that a French friend of my parents brought me when I was nine years old. These books not only propelled me to an interest in word-image juxtaposition but also inspired me to travel to such places as the Amazon Jungle, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and various remote Pacific islands. From these photographic adventures, I learned an enormous amount about politics and other ways of living. I was raised bilingually and spent years in a French lycée, further studying Latin, Spanish and German. This experience with the fungibility of words to describe an experience has informed my vision for communication in artists’ books. Another important, though more conflicted influence, was my study of mathematics culminating in the pursuit of a doctoral degree. My father was a theoretical scientist and encouraged me in this study which I rather disliked. However, I believe that the delicate balance between the quest for truth and elegance in mathematics is a deep aesthetic concern. I hope in my books to make the same sort of reasoned arguments for new ways of looking at culture and political structures.

The Return of the Slapstick Papyrus

Francois Deschamps


Francois Deschamps

type: initiating


publication: 1988-00-00

note: Printed by Brad Freeman at Visual Studies Workshop [T. Shaw]

Visual Studies Workshop Press

type: initiating


Aesthetic Profile

surrealist (AAT)
conceptual (AAT)

comedy (AAT)
fiction (AAT)
artists' books (LCSH)
travel literature (AAT)
photographs (LCSH)

themes: The power of images, power in general, and the power of humor. [T. Shaw]

content form:
visual narrative (local)

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)

related works: Other of the author's works are related such as Life in a Book, Particle Theory, and Sombras Rojas. [T. Shaw]

community: workshop Visual Studies Workshop [T. Shaw]

Related Documents

manuscript type: other

location: artist's archive