Thursday, November 7, 2013

Artist's Book from the Past: Cut, 1982-84

I'm walking down memory lane today, thinking about the mail art with the picture of Alice and Gertrude that Wallace Berman sent to Jess and Robert Duncan (shown in this post). It brought me back to this raw book, Cut, made while I was still at student at CCA(C) that featured ephemera from my file cabinet and typed poems and fragments: a variation on a journal or scrapbook. Cut has photocopy of me wrapped around museum board as its cover. It is divided into titled sections: cornered; the mess/age; temper; pacing the porch.

I had thought I had placed the same image in the book, but my memory tricked me. The image Berman used:

The postcard sent to me (Image by Carl Van Vechten; now in the Beinecke Library, Yale University):

I believe I was fooled because they are dressed the same in both pictures. You can see a third shot with an airplane and the same outfits in the library collection here in the photo, "Landing at Cleveland."

Here is the first picture I drew on a Mac with a mouse. Once again, my memory proved incorrect. My memory tells me I made the drawing at my (now) husband's place of work in 1984 in Berkeley, but he tells me this is impossible because he hadn't started there, yet. Where and how did I make this, then?

Here's a photocopy of a letter, typed on a calendar page (!), accepting my very first story for publication in the Berkeley Fiction Review for a combined issue 2 & 3.

I used to photocopy certain kinds of junk mail postcards. Here, for "Cookware Set" and something about "Pardner for Rib Eye Steaks." Who decided that a bull wearing spurs would be happy to advertise steaks? Some text: "Includes! 40 lb. bonus pack," and "To the first 20 customers only! Hurry! Purchase Required." And on the Cookware Set: "You must be fully delighted."

The photocopier was my friend. I made photomontages (before there was Photoshop).

The binding is quite strange; it's a kind of hybrid sewn over ribbons. I remember that I wanted to have the individual section titles visible from the outside and this was my solution. I glued the gray paper from the back of one section to the front of the next.

An example of a newspaper clipping that continues to transfer itself to pages preceding it: acids and lignin over time, migrating. It looks interesting, but ultimately the book will self-destruct.

More photocopied junk mail, rubberstamped text, handwritten text and drawings:

I still collect ephemera, of a sort, but I don't have so many scraps of my own handwritten/typed work. I have 12,840 photos and probably hundreds of thousands of files of poems, stories, and digital fragments that may be part of a book someday, but probably not the same one. And never mind the stack of black journals. Somehow, it seems harder to throw things out when they are stored on the computer, harder to just make them all into one book and move on.

And this reminds me: if you want to see a beautiful book of fragments of Emily Dickinson's writings—she deliberately wrote on fragments of envelopes—you've got to see this new publication, with essays by Dickinson scholar Marta Werner and some inspiring page designs by the artist Jen Bervin: The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems. Photos of each of the envelope fragments are reproduced, front and back, along with a key that is typeset so you can read it easily. There was an article about the book in the NY Times a couple weeks ago. I am fully delighted.


india flint said...

your links have sent me off on a most delicious chase...thank you

dinahmow said...

You make me feel more comfortable with the bits of tat that, despite purges, still infest my place.

Valorie Grace Hallinan said...

This is a wonderful post, and thank you for the information about Emily Dickinson digital archive and book. So glad to have discovered your site.