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Peter Downsbrough IN PASSING 1982 (written in 1981)

7 5/8 x 5 3/8 inches  (19.5 x 13.7 cm)

104 pages / Unpaginated / Perfect bound / Softcover

102 plates (collages, drawings, photographs, words)

Offset (black and white)

Publisher: Éditions Eric Fabre, Paris, following the exhibition, November 6 – December 5, 1981

Printer: Snoek-Ducaju & Zoon, Ghent

Typeset: Intergraphic, Ghent

Print run: not noted (1,000)

ISBN: none


In the late 1970s, Peter Downsbrough was looking to expand the vocabulary of the work, which involved, among other things, the introduction of dice.  In this book, the artist responsible for the “mise-en-jeu, photographs, and mise en page,” introduces a new graphic approach that is radically different from his minimal style.  The content is cearly inspired by Stéphane Mallarmés’s “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard” from 1914.  The book is a record of a dialogue between two people.  Each “voice” was assigned two pairs of dice engraved with words on three or four faces per die: “take–or–cut, on–and–move, now–set–and–fix, again–again–or–hold.”  The dialogue was determined by the words that came up after each throw of the dice, and photographs were taken (May 1981).  Throughout the book, the dialogue formed by the words quoted above alternates with photographs of the dice themselves or of the hands throwing them, and with drawings of blank dice.  The layout of this book is reminiscent of an abstract photographic novel.  At the end of the book, each die is represented schematically.  A photograph of a publicity pane–“Choisir c’est vivre”–is placed on the last right-hand page, followed, on the last page, by a smaller photograph of a blank pair of dice.  The title, in large Helvetica outline, has a prominent place on the cover–a gradation from red to pink toward the spine.  For the back cover, Downsbrough again chose a photographic bleed of a woman’s hand.