By Clifton Meador
Chicago, Illinois: 2007. Edition of 200.
11 x 8"; 52 pages. Post binding. Cover folds over from back to front then slips into spine for closure. Each 22" leaf folded to two 11" pages bound into spine at open end.
Avalanche—artists’ book as travelogue—recounts a 2003 road-trip on the Georgian Military Highway from Tbilisi to the Russian border. Meador’s photographs and maps wrap around the pages imitating the winding road and terrain. The commentary, delivered in typographical spurts that jump and sputter like the beat-up “clapped-out Niva,” permanently stuck in low, that lugged Meador northward, detours here and there, to Azerbaijan and to the first Gulag near the White Sea, to the office of the rector who tried to exhort a bribe from Meador, in Georgia on a US government grant to teach. It ends within sight of the Russian border at a monastery, the subject of a Pushkin poem “hopelessly romanticizing the Caucasus.”
The gritty-gray photographs, which take on a faint halo of color near the journey’s end, and the information are worth the price of admission. What if offered for free is the spirit of the road — priceless.