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Re: [BKARTS] A Queer An alysis of Artists' B ooks
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Re: [BKARTS] A Queer An alysis of Artists' B ooks
- From: John Cutrone <jcutrone@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 9 Apr 2009 14:06:17 -0400
- Message-id: <614DFFC1-7C24-48D9-8108-A076F007D8A7@fau.edu>
- Reply-to: Book_Arts-L <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Most of the on-list responses to Michael's (very valid, I'd say)
questions have been mind-boggling to me. I think interested parties
should just answer Michael's questions and leave the rest to him.
Don't interviews with qualified people (most of us on this list are
book artists, no?) count as valid research?
1. Is there a relationship between artists' books and the queer
community? Whether yes or no, please, explain.
I think there's a relationship between artists' books and any
community that finds itself on the sidelines of the larger community.
I think of Taller Leñateros (http://www.tallerlenateros.com/), the
print cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico, as an example. They print a
wonderful literary journal called "La Jicara," which includes, among
other things, items translated from native languages. Many of the
people in this cooperative speak only native languages. They make
their own paper, they print and bind their own books, and they send
them out into the world and suddenly their collective voice extends
beyond the boundaries of their own village. I think that's a pretty
The GLBT community, though spread far and wide, has a good bit of
this same challenge, and artists' books are simply one vehicle--a
pretty powerful one, though perhaps not widely seen, in the grand
scheme of things--for making that happen. There are many excellent
examples out there: "Gay Myths" by Ed Hutchins (Editions, 1993) and
"Parallax" by Karen Chance (Nexus Press, 1987) are two that come
immediately to mind.
That being said, there are certainly more GLBT artists out there
making books than there are artists' books that deal with GLBT
topics. I am a member of the GLBT community, but I have yet to create
a book that deals directly with GLBT topics. Not that they don't
interest me--of course they do. The topics just haven't yet
manifested themselves into a book. But there are plenty of GLBT
artists making extraordinary books on all manner of topics... which,
I think, says a lot in itself: It says that we all are essentially
the same in our basic needs and wants. There are major differences,
of course, between the queer and straight communities--but the
essential similarities are striking (which is what the current fight
for marriage equality is all about). And so I feel strongly that some
of us GLBT artists, by emphasizing that similarity, are sending out
equally strong messages about the GLBT experience... just done in a
more subtle way.
2. Is there a queer sensibility to artists' books? Explain.
In that artists' books and the GLBT community both are marginalized,
yes. And if you don't think that artists' books are marginalized, I'm
not sure where you're living. I was at Palm Beach 3 last year--a
major international artists/dealers show at the Palm Beach County
Convention Center, and in hundreds of booths, found only one that
featured books (or even had a book, for that matter). They couldn't
even be classified as artists' books, really. High end published
photography books would be a more accurate description. Not artists'
Yes, we see more and more exhibitions of artists' books in major
museums... but there is still plenty of resistance to books in the
art world. And I don't think I need to go into how marginalized the
GLBT community continues to be. Much has improved... but much has not.
3. Is there a queer history in artists' books? Explain.
It's there but will take some research... and I think primarily it
will have to come from the actual artists' books. Hopefully you have
access to a collection with a staff that can point you in the right
direction. (You could always come to the Jaffe Collection at JCBA!) I
would also speak directly to GLBT artists.
Best of luck to you, Michael. And I hope you'll share what you've
learned with the rest of us. You've stumbled upon a fascinating topic.
JCBA: Jaffe Center for Book Arts
Florida Atlantic University Wimberly Library
Boca Raton, Florida
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