What does JFK and YSL have in common, apart from their undeniable love for a good suit. Did OBL ever listen to rap music and if so, what was his opinion of OBD’s milestone debut album? Have the honorable RBG and RZA, formerly known as Prince Rakeem, ever before appeared side by side?
In A-FL M.FL.*, A-FL summons a motley crew of political figures, artists and sports personalities who all share one common trait with the author – namely being known by three-letter acronyms, or more accurately; three-letter initialisms. In this small artist’s book, each subject appears in alphabetical order, represented by a portrait and their initials. An appropriate way of reading the book is in the rhythmical fashion of the song ‘Initials’, from the popular musical ‘Hair’. Its final verse consists solely of three-letter acronyms and is sung in C major: “LBJ IRT USA LSD. LSD LBJ FBI CIA. FBI CIA LSD LBJ.”
The book’s colophon page pays homage to the early days in the history of the book, when manuscripts were traditionally copied by hand by monks. In those days, a common colophon was simply “Finished, thank God.”. The God in question is Harpocrates, the God of Silence, rendered in an engraving by Jan Muller (1571-1628), dated to 1593.
*M.FL. Is a common Swedish abbreviation for ’med flera’, translating to ’and others’ (/etc.)
A-FL (b. 1985) lives and works in Gothenburg, Sweden. Using the book as a vehicle for exploring questions of identity, language and culture, A-FL has published a number of artist’s books with ll’Editions. In 2021, he released the book Första Januari (published by Hundörat Small Press, Stockholm).