HAZELWOOD, Art; ROTZCHER, Klaus-Ulrich
Tora Bora / توره بوره / Black dust : an opera in three acts
[San Francisco : Art Hazelwood], 2011. Handmade artist’s book in the form of a foldout diorama. Screenprinted boards with cloth joints which open and assemble to create a theatrical stage 320 mm high, 250 mm deep, 710 mm wide, the floor of the stage lined with grooves into which can be inserted one or more of seven cutout screenprinted figures, the backdrop containing six original etchings which can be interchanged for each scene, accompanied by a screenprint and letterpress libretto of 24 pages and a DVD recording. Limited to 20 copies signed by the artist.
An extraordinary artistic endeavour, a full theatrical opera in miniature telling the story of a young Afghan couple in the region of Tora Bora, Afghanistan: their lifestyle harvesting opium poppies, the Soviet invasion and Mujahideen resistance, the covert operations of the CIA, the rise of the Taliban and demise of Ahmed Sham Massoud, the US invasion and flight of Osama bin Laden, all illustrated by the set designs of Rötzscher and artwork of Hazelwood.
‘Tora Bora is a reverse engineered opera. The Seventeenth Century etcher Jacques Callot’s illustrations of scenes from operas inspired the thought—what if all that remained of an opera were etchings from a few scenes? How, for example, would the Magic Flute be reconstructed from that? With this in mind Art Hazelwood and Klaus-Ullrich Rötzscher began this collaboration. Art Hazelwood engraved the six scenes from the opera Tora Bora. Tora Bora is the name of a mountain cave complex at the center of Afghan contemporary history. The CIA funded the expansion of the caves there to help the Mujahideen fight the Soviets. The Taliban used them, and it was Osama Bin Laden’s last known address, from where he escaped capture by the US. Even now poppy production and Taliban activity is rampant in this rugged mountain area twenty miles from the Pakistan border.
The opera is presented in a fold out stage with screen printed covers. The viewer moves through the various scenes of the opera while reading the storyline and lyrics in an accompanying booklet and using seven puppets to enact the scenes. Should a full scale opera appear it will be staged on a larger stage. This fold out boxed opera with seven puppets, six engravings and a letterpress booklet of storyline, in an edition of twenty” – the artist.
“Engravings printed on Hahnemühle Copperplate paper & Lana Gravure paper ; screenprints printed Hahnemühle Bugra paper & Arches Watercolor Hot Press paper ; booklet printed on Mohawk Superfine and set in Verlag, Chronicle Text and Lithos Pro ; text designed by Ingalls Design ; text printed Tom Goglio at TAGlio Litho”- Colophon.
A rare artistic exploration of one of the most complex conflicts in modern military history, of which the displacement and diaspora of the Afghan people has affected almost every nation.