Witty Books / The Ice Plant, 2022. Edition of 800 copies. Hardcover, 80 pp., 66 illustrations, 165 x 241. Photographs by Melissa Catanese. Design by Giulia Boccarossa.
A wild, insomniac cousin to her somnambulist classic Dive Dark Dream Slow (The Ice Plant, 2012), Melissa Catanese's The Lottery reads like a work of speculative fiction: a glimpse into an anxious human civilization suspended between uncertain futures and the aftermath of its distant and recent past. Seamlessly combining her own recent photographs with anonymous vernacular photos, press images, and NASA archival imagery, Catanese's intuitive editing re-animates the images' dormant surfaces, evoking the mob mentality and tribalism of Shirley Jackson's short story “The Lottery” as well as the cosmic indeterminacy at the heart of our unfolding present. Throughout the sequence, we see catastrophic forces and events punctuated by archetypal scenes of serenity, tenderness, and fragility. Crowds gather to gawk, passively entertained by unseen horrors. Lone figures claw, swim and bend, haunted and creaturely, isolated and immersed in primordial landscapes. Brief fragments of text from Virginia Woolf hint at a tentative meaning to the madness, a glimmer of hope for regeneration.