Moby Dick; or, The Whale, 2015-2023, publication, 621 pages, 5 1/4 x 8” / 13.3 x 20.5 cm

While living in Chicago I became friends with Catherine, a massage therapist that has her massage parlor next to where I used to live in Humboldt Park. Catherine was born in China and immigrated to Chicago in 2005. Her parlor offers four kinds of massages: sports massage, foot massage, Swedish massage and happy ending massage. Only the happy ending massage is not advertised at the window of the parlor. She told me that what she really dislikes about her job is the waiting time between customers where she either plays Candycrush, cleans the parlor, or traces an old Barnes and Noble copy of Moby Dick, or; The Whale.

Catherine literally handwrites, on top of each printed letter of the book, that very same letter again and again: an 'a' for an 'a', a 'b' for a 'b' and etc. Catherine was not aware initially, but likewise, Elizabeth Shawn Melville, Augusta Melville and Helen Maria Melville, Herman Melville’s wife and sisters, handwrote most of the original manuscripts of his works, including Moby Dick, or; The Whale. This book, Moby Dick; or, The Whale, is a page by page reproduction of her traced book. The notes, on the side of the pages, were done as a register of different lived moments between us. Catherine agreed to have her book published according to a criteria suggested by her: 70 dollars an hour, the same hourly rate she charges for massages. It took her 44 hours to trace the whole book.

This book is printed and sold on demand, without editions, and at a cost price. Moby Dick; or, The Whale, by Catherine and published by Felipe Steinberg, publication, 621 pages, 5 1/4 x 8” / 13.3 x 20.5 cm, 2015-2022