The Danger of a Single Story (2017)
About: A pocket-book designed with the text of Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s The Danger of a Single Story, with accompanying monoprinted illustrations and hand-bound.
Skills and Processes: InDesign; layout; letterpress; monoprint; bookbinding.
Our class was set an assignment to create a publication using the text from a TED talk of our choosing. I chose to make a pocket-book with the text of Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s talk The Danger of a Single Story (2009), about the damaging effects of simplistic colonial narratives of Africa and the importance of creating platforms and opportunities so non-Western cultures start to tell their own stories.
I was very interested in the etymological connections between storytelling and fabric work, the ideas of ‘spinning’ and ‘weaving’ tales, and explored the Igbo traditions of weaving. I looked at the layouts of pocket-books, to understand the rules of their layout and how they could be played with and subverted to reflect themes from the talk about carving out space in the literary canon. I looked at childrens’ picture books to understand how to experiment with layout in a more playful, less serious way. My research also covered types of paper and modes of production, including methods of binding.
I chose to develop illustrations to accompany the text using monoprint, to offset the playful arrangement of the text with black-and-white analogue images. I used imagery of threads to connect all the images to reflect my ideas around narrative threads. I played with using paper cut-outs to peek through / obscure following pages.
I tested a version with saddle stitch and embroidering the front, however it looked very home-made, and I decided instead to opt for perfect binding and a letterpress cover.