At the core of the artist book A True & Exact History (2018) is an erasure of one of the most formative descriptions of the English Caribbean in the seventeenth Century, Richard Ligon’s 1657 guidebook, A True and Exact History of Barbadoes. Using the language, imagery, and thematic drives at the core of this text to disrupt the teleology of colonial Caribbean history, these unbound poetic fragments scattered among a shifting landscape simultaneously re-create and resist narrative as a device of cohesive history, ultimately calling into question what it means to write “a true and exact history” of anything.
This project began in the Spring of 2016 during a writing residency when Annalee Davis pulled Ligon’s text from the Colleen Lewis Reading Room at Fresh Milk in St. George, Barbados. A True & Exact History was produced at the University of Iowa Center for the Book in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 in an edition of 25 copies. The poem is handset in Elizabeth Roman and the running heads and folios are handset in Van Dijck. Images lifted from Ligon’s botanical drawings, architectural plans, and topological map of the island of Barbados were reproduced in polymer. The book is entirely letterpress-printed on Lettra Ecru paper and housed in a clamshell box especially designed by Sonia Farmer for the reading experience. The production was made possible by a grant from the Caxton Club in Chicago and a commission from the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.