UMBRELLA OCT 96
Most of the books in this section are available from Printed Matter, 77 Wooster St., New York, NY 10012 unless otherwise indicated.
Some Cities by Victor Burgin (Berkeley, Univ. of California Press, 1996, $19.95 paper) is a departure for this artist whose reputation has been made by his verbal and visual explorations into politics and sexuality in everyday life. Here, Burgin collects thoughts, places, and photographs just like any "traveler", but from his perceptive angle, his words and photographs address the pervasive condition of the city, while the form is a travel book, where each city is treated as a "destination", a familiar place. His itinerary, his life route, involves Northern England, London, Berlin and Warsaw; Singapore, Woomera and Tokyo; New York and San Francisco; and the islands of Stromboli and Tobago. Yet the book is an uncanny journey of an artist who always sees in a political and social context. His journey is not your journey, but what a journey it is. The influence of childhood memories and popular fantasies influence our attitudes about cities, as he so ably proves with his photographs and his texts. He is presently a Professor in the Board of Studies in History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Without Intent by Mary Ellen Carroll is a documentation of Manhattan, using a camera mounted on the photographer's back. The focus is set to infinity and the walk is from Broadway from the Harlem River to Battery Park. The photos, printed to the edge, give the reader a near-actual walk through New York City--almost better than a videotape, since the interactivity comes with the hand. Yet people are real, and blocks are actual. Edition of 500, signed and numbered by the artist. Published by Presse endemique, 1996. $10.00
Contest by Karen Savage (Chicago, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1995, $20) has no rules other than the photographs must be clear for reproduction purposes. The pages are full of multiple photographs of women, seemingly for purposes of album identification, either a yearbook or Passport ID. In the final analysis, in this spiral-bound album, the artist states that the photos were clear, that everyone was judged solely by their photographs and even snapshots were admitted. Now the request is to send a good photograph, but "keep your secret." A ready-made paper frame is supplied to send in your photo with the date and the occasion for the photograph. In this case, silence is silver! Signed by the artist.
Suburban Dwelling by Alyson Levy (Gwynedd, PA, 996, $12) is a spiral-bound album of photos with a title overlaid on each colored image. You can then turn the book over and read the same image with a different caption on it--playing off the phrase or word on the other image. So a small dog in front of a large house is entitled "status" on one side and "static" on the other. Reading images obviously depends upon the viewer. Point well taken.
Ordinary Events by Carl Sesto (Boston, SMFA Press, 1994, $35) truly incorporates the new technology in computers using Adobe Photoshop and the Mac and Quark Xpress. My first response was to remember Janet Zweig's tour de force without computers, The Measurement of Emotional Reactions (Evanston, IL, 1981)--and marvel at her expertise and her perseverance in using the printing presses at night in order to get her images printed. Now how easy it is with the new technology--but this book is really delicious! It is printed well, conceived well and presented as a visual diary. In full and glorious color, this hardback book of memories is totally a work of art.
Home by Roberley Bell (Rochester, Visual Studies Workshop, 1995, $35, ed. of 100) is a spiral bound beautifully printed memory of a home--four words printed on vellum like a haiku describe a page of a metal vessel with handle set in a photocorners against a background that reminds one of wallpaper or slipcovers. The progression goes from dawn to evening--the memories are universal, for one can substitute other personal "vessels" as well. This is a charged memory book.
Pick to Pieces by M. Snitker (New York, 1996, $10) is a memory book as well, one of an artist living in New York City, a Dutch artist. Most of the pictures come from Chicago or New York "slightly out of focus" like the book of that title by Robert Capa, which is the back cover. Edition of 600. Some photos are black and white, others in color.
The Book of Sham: Visual Midrash by Udi Aloni (New York, 1995, $20) is a bold and provocative catalyst to understand Jewish texts in a new way. This love story between a straight and gay man, intersected with religion, respect, eroticism, humor, art and even harassment, this book becomes a collage of word, image and uncategorized genders. This book is a eulogy to friend, poet and choreographer Hezy Leskly, who died a year before this book was created from AIDS. Talmud, Zohar--complete texts, small allusions to Walter Benjamin, old themes, new technologies. A symphony of styles, of texts, of art histories!
Suit-Case by Lisa Rosenmeier is an amazing book, a part of which is an exhibition catalog shown at the Museum of Photography in Odense, New Carlsberg Glyptothek in Copenhagen, Horsens Museum of Fine Art and North Jutland Art Museum from 1993 to 1994. This is a superbly photographed series of "chapters" or reflections in time As indicated in the preface, Suit refers to appropriate or correct, as well as the things we carry when traveling. The photographs themselves with titles such as Transcendence, Hypostasis, Lines, The Search, The Messenger et al. These allegories carry us through a story of dream sequences which involve relationships, isolation, and interactivity on the part of the reader/viewer. The viewer is included in much of the imagery. The artist also relies on the sequence of images on pages of a book to rely on the reader to continue to understand the narrative using Freudian symbols. The essay is tough to read, because it has been translated from the Danish is stilted English, but it is important to read. Body art is definitely part of this book--it is as if all the contemporary buttons are pushed to make a statement here, but it is quite successful in the theoretical mode. She calls it "plastic-graphic signification" and I call it "book". $15.00 is a bargain for this magnificently printed book. It would cost $50.00 anywhere else--but I commend this book to you and recommend it highly.
100 Pages: Words + Pages by Dan Wynn (New York, 1996) is a kind of On-the-Road picture book with photos from Paris, Los Angeles, New Jersey, and many other anonymous places including numbers, letters, textures, and environments. A black and white journey in personal terms that becomes a universal. $11.50
Campbells Occasionally by Tal R ("tur retur") (Copenhagen, 1996, $15) is a picture book with one print included in the center (ed. of 100). All faces are hidden by the computer or montage. Although seemingly random, the recurrences of palm trees, hooded figures, etc. seem to create a fugue and variation. Photos are black and white, cover is in digitized but painterly colors. Signed and numbered.
Mother-Son Talk by Gail S. Rebhan (Rochester, Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1996) is a dialogue between a mother and her young sons, continuing a theme of the artist centering around relationships and family. The artist has organized stories of one-page, which grew out of conversations with her two young sons. The stories show how her sons assimilate outside culture, but develop their own cultural identity by assimilation. There is so much humor, wisdom, insight, and philosophy in each of these pages that one should read them slowly and well. The artist has also designed each page unto itself--so that they represent an individual graphic image. There is such a depth to these stories, such pathos and empathy, and such good sense, real sense. To order, send $15 plus $2 postage to Gail Rebhan, 4510 Ellicott St. NW, Washington, DC 20016. For all mothers, fathers, sons and brothers.
Stills from a Complete Conversation by Hirsch Perlman (Gent, Imschoot, uitgevers, 1996) is a re-enactment of Tweedledum and Tweedledee fighting it out to see who is master. The book is a series of still photos of two men, who obviously are conversing, using the same statement about indulging your conceit by saying only what you think you want to hear in order to encourage me to do the same for you. The book was a result of a "Projects" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, 26 March - 21 May 1996. I assume the Museum is in New York City. The sequencing is enticing--the two protagonists are wonderfully expressive. A true performance!
The First Manual - two dogs laughed by Herakliusz Pr. Lubomirski and Alfonso Paredes Jr. (New York, Ah! Space, 1996, $35) is a compilation of their respective artistic output including stories, ideas and artwork. To say this is an eccentric publication would be putting it mildly. It has many narratives, including a fantastic fairy tale about the adventures of a Squire and a Seminarist getting shipwrecked on mystery-laden glacial islands. All text has been originally written in Polish by Lubomirski, who translates himself into English, yet he deliberately retained the imaginative and often grammatically incorrect syntax. So he in essence has created an improvisation on the process of translation itself. The reader is challenged, in fact, to accept and understand a new form of expression. Lubomirski comes from the "Therapeutical Performer" theater in Poland, where he worked for many years. This avant-garde group had a desire to awaken the audience's senses--by using jazz and opera, tribal drums, painting and activity techniques, combined with Old Slavs' rituals. The images start with large format cibachrome photographic prints that consist of computer graphics, text and scanned photographs and other objects. Paredes, however, is a true photograph in black and white, whose imagery is peaceful and meditative. Images of seagulls in flight, of branches and leaves floating on water, of objects on a radiator cover in an apartment--all are familiar and affectionate subject matter. When the two collaborated on the visual design, and the books had been printed, the two artists discovered that some of the photographs came out too dark and many pages had been spattered or had other mishaps. But, in the spirit of the books, these copies will also be available for distribution and should not be taken as mere errors, but an integral part of the process of bookmaking. Whatever mistakes you might find, this is an experimental journey into the processes and products of two artists who are "eccentric" and who have put themselves out there in this beautifully printed, oversized paperbound volume. An experience!
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