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Mining My Antonia
Portland, Oregon / West Hartford, Connecticut:: Triangular Press / The Harford Art School Print Workshop,, 2012.. Edition of 30. 17 x 10" portfolio bound in cloth-covered binder's board. On the base of the portfolio is a hinged wooden frame opening left to right. The window of the frame has treated glassine with printed titles. Behind the frame is a suite of five copperplate etchings. Nestled within the window of the frame is a cloth-covered pamphlet stitched book (10.25 x 7"). Within the book is a foldout map and a fragment from the 2010 installation of "My Antonia" at Reed College as well as excerpts from the Cather novel. The excerpts were handset in foundry type and printed letterpress on Zerkall papers. Signed and numbered by the artist on the colophon. Barbara Tetenbaum: "This project is the second in a series of artworks stemming from the experience of reading Willa Cather's novel My Ántonia. "In the summer of 2010 I spent a month in the gallery at Reed College listening to a recording of Willa Cather's 1918 novel, My Ántonia. I had wanted to put myself in the position of a first-time reader and respond to the story however it moved me. I assumed I would draw directly on the walls as I listened and that this would be the basis for the exhibition. Instead I was amazed and captivated by the pure gorgeousness of Cather's writing. What took me by surprise was how emotional this experience became. Listening each day to her descriptions of the landscape and the sky brought me to tears, the kind that have no root in sadness or nostalgia but came from a place deep in my being. I surrendered myself to her words, retyping excerpts onto many scraps of paper and pinning them to the walls of the gallery or suspending them from fishing line for viewers to bump into. "Using the entire floor of the gallery, I mapped out the novel with colored drafting and electrical tapes, assigning a color and size to each character. The end result resembled a map of the London Underground and the room was a kind of exploded view of the novel. Visitors navigated the story as they roamed around the gallery. "This project represents a desire to put this experience back into book form. It features five automatic drawings made while listening to the novel, printed as etchings. A cloth-bound book of handset letterpress-printed excerpts accompanies this. A large fold-out map of how I see the novel, printed as a large etching with letterpress text, is housed inside the book along with one piece of text from the original Reed College installation. Nathalia King, Professor English and Humanities at Reed College, Reading the Literary Text as 'Art in Space': "To my mind, Tetenbaum's artist book, Mining My Antonia (2012) occupies the mid-point on the spectrum of this process. Its centerpiece is a series of prints (one for each of the five chapters in My Antonia) that are the product of automatic drawing - a process which explores the relation between the moving hand and the processes of thought and emotion, especially as informed by the unconscious mind. Embraced by the Surrealists (Masson, Miro, Dali, Arp, and Breton), automatic drawing can be defined as a dialogue between unconscious and conscious mental activity, between a deeply experienced drafting hand and a willfully empty mind. The hand must work freely and without deliberation, using the simple forms of a continuous and involved line, so that the artist's characteristic expression or motor memory can slide past consciousness - especially as the latter depends on the codes and conventions of illustration ... The psychic mechanisms activated here are those that Freud identified with the dream, the joke, and the symbol: the mental condensation and displacement that allow for the unexpected release of perception, the discovery of relations in randomness, visualization of pure intuition. Listening again to Cather's book on tape, and using copper etching plates prepared by master printer, Kathy Kuehn, Tetenbaum drew with an etching needle, pencil, and paint brush on hard, soft, and spit bite grounds respectively. From these different combinations of tool and surface different graphic textures emerged, varying from sharp and incisive to soft and hazy. Concomitantly, each plate became a sort of visual transparency of Tetenbaum's aural experience of a section of Cather's text: her graphic textures invoke elements of sky and water, or aspects of womanhood and boyhood. The other components of this artist book also each serve to translate the written text into images of various media. A large map reinterprets the movement of characters in space, just as smaller maps stand in for their voyage from Bohemia to Nebraska. For Tetenbaum, even the different typefaces she used and the different orientations each medium had to the original text reflected some aspect of a process of reading and interpretation in which one book becomes another book." The pamphlet A Close Read: The Cather Projects is included.
      [Bookseller: Vamp & Tramp, Booksellers, LLC]
Last Found On: 2014-12-15           Check availability:      Biblio    

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