The Day My Keys Didn't Want to Go Home
An artist's book by
Jean de la Fontaine
Madison Smartt Bell
We needed to find a place to work on the project together. A good spot was offered to us by Gerard Barthelemy. He and his family had spent 20 years or so renovating an abandoned mill complex about 50 miles north of Paris. Gerard spent many years in Haiti, where Jean and I have also spent some time-- and the feel of the Moulin Rouge was very much that of a Haitian lakou. Gerard's wife Perrine let us use her studio for a couple of days. The room had once controlled a water-gate and the mill stream still flows beneath it....
Oddly, Jean and I had never worked together simultaneously on any of our earlier collaborations. The books we had done before had happened through the mail when both of us were in different countries. Oddly we weren't quite sure to do. I forget which one of us made the first move. It might have been me telling a story idea about a person riding around in the metro, unwillingly assailed by the thoughts of other passengers. Or maybe Jean drew the image from his dream, a snake shooting out a man's ear...