Books and Perceval Press

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Image Viggo Mortensen.
© Perceval Press.
"I just wanted to have a company that would publish writers and artists and poets," he says, "people I wouldn't have heard of - the way that they wanted to be published, without compromising." - Viggo Mortensen

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Books and Perceval Press

"I wanted the book to be bilingual so that his work could be known in the US and in other countries. But for me, it was very important, because it helped me return to the strict grammar of both languages and to my personal double history. Nevertheless, I believe that translating a poem always causes damage; there are times in which one feels that justice is not done to it. Because of this, I'm very careful, because the cleaning up of texts is a crime."

Viggo talking about Talo Kejner book of poems
Viggo Mortensen, The Poet
By Valeria Melon - translated by Ollie, Rio, Sage and Zoe
La Nacion
19 December 2010




The originals on glass plates on which Schmidt "meticulously captured the soul, the culture" of these peoples, were taken to the United States by Mortensen himself to submit them to a restoration process before returning them to the museum, which, by the way, has the poorest of budgets, he explained.

Mortensen himself related a pretty hilarious anecdote about the move to California: "I was very nervous," he said while dragging his "r's" in a perfect PorteƱo accent. "I took the hand luggage packed with these glass plates. I wrapped them in San Lorenzo t-shirts, partly from superstition and also for protection. I was afraid something would happen to them. I felt like [I did] the first time I put my son on a plane."

Viggo talking about Hijos de la selva [Sons of the Forest]
Rescued at the hands of Viggo Mortensen
By - translated by Zoe
Terra.com.ar
17 September 2013




One of his most recent books, The Horse Is Good, seems to fit in nicely with the relationships he has cultivated with some of his onscreen steeds. "The Horse Is Good was just kind of an exercise. It's just the small part of the results of an exercise that I embarked on pretty much as we started shooting, more or less. Which was I realized that I was gonna be in the saddle most every day and some days all day long. And that point of view is different than sitting here or standing or walking down the street. You're up higher, you're moving a different way, the perspective of the rider through the camera or holding it down lower to get the horse's point of view, with the landscape, the people, and the animals and all that. I thought it would be interesting to do a collection of images, 'cause we'd be in different places - the Northern Plains, U.S., Sahara Desert, the Wild West Show, going down the street, who knows where, on horses. And so that's what that is. So there is some direct connection, but it's also a little more abstract. I mean it was something that interested me on the fringe of doing this movie."

The Lord of the Rings & Hidalgo Star Discusses Horses, Learning New Languages, Photography and More
Spence D
FilmForceIGN, 2004




I love the cover [of A Sudden Country]. I assumed Random House would come up with something good. We talked about a few ideas, and I knew what I didn't want. But then I had to put together a production book to go with a script I was working on, and needed images. I knew Viggo Mortensen had a pretty new book out, and thought it might have something with the right kind of atmosphere. I needed something with horses, and most horse photographs are awful. I thought these would be good, and they were--so light and responsive, so far beyond mere composition. Even good photographers sometimes seem too calculated to me, like they're trying too hard. I love artists who are able to capture something unexpected, to allow mystery, to be led by feeling. Who take risks, invite surprise. Who are unpretentious. It's what I hope for in my own work, and when I saw this one (the rider against the sky) so beautifully realized, and so close in feeling to what I wanted, I thought, Yes! There's my cover! I sent a copy in to my editor, and she passed it along, and it ended up getting selected.

Karen Fisher on using one of Viggo's photos from The Horse is Good as a cover for her book, A Sudden Country
ASuddenCountry.com
Q&A Session with author Karen Fisher




ST: How did you approach the photography for "Miyelo"?

VM: Well, the idea came from a scene in the movie called "Hidalgo" [about long-distance horse rider Frank T. Hopkins, forthcoming in 2004] where the character I play, who's at the end of his energies and in the middle of nowhere without any water or hope left, begins to hallucinate. In a delirious state, he starts to hear these voices and see these fragments of people. I wondered how one would use a still camera to represent images of the ephemeral dancers in wide-open, empty landscape - how the ghosts of Ghost Dancers might look. So I really approached it as an exercise. In the end, I didn't actually use my own camera. I wanted to include more of the landscape, and Richard Cartwright, a very fine photographer who was shooting the official stills for the movie, was kind enough to lend me his panoramic Hasselblad camera.

I shot the one roll of film at different settings, with increasingly longer exposures. The sun was very bright, so I was hoping to get one interesting image from the roll. Luckily, this was one of those rare situations where intentionally doing "the wrong thing" with the camera worked in an interesting way. As conscious an exercise as making these particular pictures was, there are accidents in the images - weird spots, unexpected areas of saturation and contrast variations - strange things that I couldn't see when shooting and still cannot really explain. The longer the exposure, the more room for surprises. I like the fact that even with a medium as supposedly controlled and predictable as photography is meant to be, there still is mystery in the results. You won't necessarily be sure what you will get, where you are going.

Viggo Mortensen on Miyelo
The Man Who Would be King
By Scott Thill
Salon.com, 2003




"In taking the pictures, I wanted to join in rather than observe from a distance. Or at least to take pictures in the spirit of the event itself."

Viggo Mortensen on Miyelo
The Man Who Would be King
By Scott Thill
Salon.com, 2003




'It is perhaps our most successful marrying of text, imagery and design. It worked out really well, so it feels like it was supposed to turn out that way.'

Viggo Mortensen on Miyelo
"Life's Too Short to Do All This Work and Not Do It Right": An Interview with Viggo Mortensen
By Scott Thill
Morphizm.com
6 April 2004




"I went to [Mortensen's] house and saw a few hundred images and saw right away that he had an eye for the street and the quirky nature of the everyday,... Around here he's considered number one as an artist, not a Hollywood figure by any means,"

Pilar Perez
The Man Who Would Be King
by Nick Dent
Black & White magazine 2001




ST: Where did you come up with the name?

VM: Well, the legend of Perceval involves, in part - I'm sure you know about this - the notion of choosing and making your own way. A group of knights comes to the edge of a forest and each one makes his individual path. They consciously choose not to take a path that's already there, but instead create their own. Symbolically, that was the idea behind the press, and that is what we have tried to do with each book.

Viggo Mortensen on Perceval Press
The Man Who Would be King
By Scott Thill
Salon.com, 2003




'Viggo himself is a man possessed of both great creative integrity and strong, lucid political conviction. That he has used the fruits of his success as an actor to found Perceval is an extremely rare sort of endeavor but absolutely true to the man himself. There's a paradoxical quality to Viggo - he's a fiercely individual entity with an enviable creative output, but he simultaneously possesses a strong sense of community responsibility. I think Perceval is just one manifestation of that drive to illuminate work by others that might go unnoticed. It's a very, very positive quality, in my opinion.'

David Newsom, Author of "Skip'
ReadySteadyBook.com
Mark Thwaite, March 10 2006




"I just wanted to have a company that would publish writers and artists and poets," he says, "people I wouldn't have heard of - the way that they wanted to be published, without compromising."

Viggo Mortensen on Perceval Press
Little Press Shines With Star Power
Susan Salter Reynolds
Los Angeles Times, 2004




'With each of our books, we've taken care to satisfy the author first and foremost, while marrying that with our own design aesthetics as unobtrusively as possible.'

Viggo Mortensen on Perceval Press
"Life's Too Short to Do All This Work and Not Do It Right":
An Interview with Viggo Mortensen
By Scott Thill
Morphizm.com
6 April 2004




"...I don't see us being crusaders, other than in the role of defending the right of people to express themselves."

Viggo Mortensen on Perceval Press
The Man Who Would be King
By Scott Thill
Salon.com, 2003




"We take care with each book," he says, slouched against a doorway and looking down. "We try to keep the prices low. We're not operating with a goal in mind. We're not beholden to other people or to large companies. We don't have a plan. We just put out the books we want to. It's a kind of," he pauses searching for the word, "thoughtful anarchy."

Viggo Mortensen on Perceval Press
Little Press Shines With Star Power
Susan Salter Reynolds
Los Angeles Times, 2004

Last edited: 28 June 2014 13:29:55