Keenan Poloncsak ’s road trip moves slowly and bilingually in ‘Road Trip: Côte Nord et L’Île D’Anticosti’

Road Trip: Côte Nord et L’Île D’Anticosti

Art zine, Keenan Poloncsak,

“All of the drawings in this book were done during a road trip I took from Montreal to Anticosti island with my girlfriend Maude in july of 2019,” reads the inscription for this work. It’s a simple premise, elegantly executed. Measuring a full 8.5”x 11”, this saddle-stitched travel journal contains 16 scenes, both natural and cultural. The printing is remarkably sharp, bringing out the richness of these images, the most beautiful of which are washed in delicate watercolour. His human subjects, in the rare instances they wander into the frame, fade into the background. Swallowed up in the pleasant vision of Anticosti, Poloncsak’s road trip moves slowly and — a nice touch — bilingually. “White tailed deer dominate the landscape of Anticosti Island,” he writes, providing a brief history of the ecology of this space he’s stumbled upon. The reader is free to follow his lead — deer speckle the horizon in his adjacent sketch, along with unmentioned waterfowl, a radio tower, nondescript, almost indiscernible habitations where the sky meets the hills.

I take half serious issue with Poloncsak’s binding, and all the Easter eggs he hides within. A bookbinder himself, Poloncsak is no doubt intentional with his ill-fitting aesthetic contrasts: the gold-tooled, luxurious leatherbound cover printed on a normal glossy stock, and stapled to bound a so-called travel journal written by hand! His overwrought paratextual elements don’t exactly work to the traditional eye — a personalized bookplate and a library’s loaner card? Watermarks that only mark one side of the leaf? A Victorian binder’s tag? And — God forbid — a spattered bug body, far too large to have been smushed here without the mark producing serious alarm!

The creator is clearly having a laugh — as am I. Here’s hoping he keeps up the fun.