Hanuman Books 1986 – 1993
With a contribution by Francesco Clemente and Raymond Foye
Hanuman Books was a publishing house founded in 1986 by the artist Francesco Clemente and the editor and curator Raymond Foye. The name comes from a Hindu divinity depicted in the Indian epic poem Ramayana, represented in the Hanuman Books logo designed by Clemente. The editorial research began one year earlier, during a trip to India, when Clemente introduced his friend Foye local miniature prayer books.
These very small, light volumes symbolize contemplation and worship, which precisely due to their size – no larger than the palm of a hand – could be practiced upon frequently during the course of the day. The small handstitched format with bright colours, features the face of the guru or saint to whom the booklet is dedicated, on the front cover.
Over the course of seven years, the two founders used this format to publish fifty books (with the exception of God with Revolver by Rene Ricard, which is larger in size), twelve per year, tracing a non-linear path through the panorama of the 1980s.
In the library of Hanuman Books it is possible to consult works by leading voices of the Beat Generation (such as William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac), the orientalist perspectives of figures like René Daumal, great musical talents like Bob Dylan and Patti Smith, radical and feminist personas like Simone Weil and Dodie Bellamy, and a wide range of poets and artists. The writings featured in Hanuman Books were never the most representative creations of a given author, rather they were supplementary comments and personal baggage. In fact, the subversive character of these books was marked by the marginal expressions of both powerful and less visible figures.
The exhibition space presents the complete collection of publications released by Hanuman Books, displayed at the back of the room, while the lateral walls offer an interview conducted by MACRO’s artistic director and curator Luca Lo Pinto with the two founders, providing visitors with a detailed narrative of their experience. The story is completed with a floor-display that suggests the moment in which an editor, giving form to a publication, places the materials on the ground to peruse and select them. The expanse of documents, photographs, letters and catalogues from the personal archives of Raymond Foye is subdivided into three thematic areas. These include: a section on the printing process in Madras, another on the authors involved with the publishing house, and the promotional activities and correspondence with the players and participants of Hanuman Books, a publishing house that is small only in appearance.
The exhibition is promoted by Roma Culture and Azienda Speciale Palaexpo.
Heartfelt thanks to Giampiero Mughini, Hanuman Books Records, University of Michigan Library (Special Collections Research Center).
Curator: Luca Lo Pinto
Curatorial Coordinator: Lisa Andreani
Exhibition Coordinator: Veronica Botta
Exhibition design: Marco Campardo Studio
Production and fabrication: Gimax, Fedele82 snc, Fabio Pennacchia
Production and Research Assistants: Giulia Caruso, Anna Mostardi, Carlotta Pierleoni
Art handlers: Fabio Pennacchia, Matteo Pompili
Restorers: Lorenzo Civiero, Serena Galetti, Cecilia Hausmann