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Artist + Writer Molly Crabapple's 20x200 Debut

It’s quite a thrill to debut today’s release, the first of two editions we’ve teed up by artist and writer Molly Crabapple. My head was positively swimming with words and ideas that we might use to describe her paintings and her practice, but how to choose? There are a lot of words, just as there’s a lot to her work, which is various and complex. Fortunately, Warren Ellis—a most talented wordsmith indeed!—was glad to dash off exactly the right words, and seemed to do so with incredible ease. Read on for these words of his, and marvel at their enormous warmth and insight. Jen Bekman

Alice and Bob and Eve by Molly Crabapple
14"x11" ($60) | 20"x16" ($240) | 24"x20" ($600) | 40"x30" ($2,400) | 60"x50" ($6,000)

Alice, Bob and Eve are placeholder names in descriptions of cryptography. Alice and Bob usually just want to talk or trade photos of their bits. Eve is someone or something who wants to listen in. The eavesdropper. Which somebody somewhere probably thought was clever. Eve is central in this piece, Alice and Bob and Eve by Molly Crabapple

Only in Molly’s world are internet packets gift-wrapped, because, honestly, only Molly is going to spend that amount of time scratching out hundreds of tiny bloody ribbons. But, as you can see, Eve isn’t really there. Eve is just a mask hung on the true nature of the beast – the tentacular horror inspired by Matt Taibbi’s “vampire squid” metaphor that so inspired Molly a few years back. She ended up illustrating one of Taibbi’s books, The Divide, recounting the new travesties committed by the financial monsters he called out as bloodsuckers. 

I know she wonders what might have happened if the financial crash and Occupy Wall Street hadn’t happened on her NYC doorstep. It’s not like she wasn’t political before, and it’s not like she wasn’t culturally aware or already powerfully auto-didactic. But Occupy supercharged her. It showed her the way to become the artist she always wanted to be. By day she was down in the occupation, sketching in the library, and by night her loft was filled with, for example, the security threat modellers who taught her about crypto. 

This is what she does. Istanbul, Syria, Athens, Guantanamo: she listens, learns, takes in as much as possible, and processes it out into the world as art that is both jeweled and barbed. Alice and Bob and Eve, the image, is as close to a perfect illustration of her life, mind and method as you could find. Baroque, politicized, informed and immaculate.

Let it also be noted that she is very short and will steal all your whisky and cigarettes in the blink of an eye. She has that weird tiny-animal speed combined with an eerily bottomless gut for expensive alcohol.

Warren Ellis
On the River Thames
17 October 2015