Ode to Happiness
From the Steidl press release:
Ode to Happiness is a grown-up’s picture book. Featuring artwork by artist Alexandra Grant and text by actor Keanu Reeves, this thoughtfully crafted artist’s book serves as a meditation on making the best of a bad situation. In the tradition of a classic “hurtin’ song,” the text externalizes what is typically an internal monologue, a spontaneous, melancholy incantation of near-hopelessness—and in so doing, subtly pokes fun at it. The images—beautifully realized in somber inky washes of black on white—reflect the dark and light, the pathos and humor of the text. Neither entirely earnest nor wholly ironic, the book is ultimately completed by the reader, who brings his or her own experience to its interpretation.
Ode to Happiness is a testament to collaboration. Arising from the authors’ friendship and facilitated behind-the-scenes by Janey Bergam, the book was created through a process of exchange, as a gift each collaborator gave the other. Completing the collaboration was Gerhard Steidl, the legendary German printer and publisher who precisely translated the original artwork into book form and brought elegance and simplicity to its binding and packaging.
Intended as a reminder to take oneself only so seriously, Ode to Happiness is both a meditation and a gentle tease about how we cope with life’s sorrows.
Alexandra Grant is a Los Angeles-based artist who uses language and networks of words as the basis for her work in painting, drawing, and sculpture. Grant has explored ideas of translation, identity, and dis/location, not only in drawings, painting, and sculpture, but also in collaboration with writers such as hypertext author Michael Joyce and the philosopher Hélène Cixous. Grant recently had her second solo show with Honor Fraser Gallery in September 2010 and currently has work on view at the California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art, and “Artists Museum” at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
Keanu Reeves has worked in show business since 1983, appearing in a range of films that span several genres, including comedies (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, 1989, I Love You To Death, 1990), action films (Point Break, 1991, Speed, 1994), and romances (A Walk In The Clouds, 1995, Sweet November, 2001, and The Lake House, 2006). He has worked in both independent (River’s Edge, 1986, My Own Private Idaho, 1991, A Scanner Darkly, 2006, and The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee, 2009) and studio films, both in supporting (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992, Little Buddha, 1993, and Something’s Gotta Give, 2003) and leading roles (The Devil’s Advocate, 1997, The Matrix Trilogy, 1999/2003, Constantine, 2005, and The Day The Earth Stood Still, 2008). His first feature, Henry’s Crime—starring Reeves, James Caan, and Vera Farmiga and produced by his production company, Company Films—will be released in the Unites States, April 8, 2011. In 2010, in cooperation with VMCF Paris and IPG/SPU, Reeves produced Autour/Around, by Benoit Fougeirol and Michael Batalla. Ode To Happiness is Reeves’s first published work as a writer.