Monday, August 26, 2013

"Please Don't Look" Is Being Looked At in Decatur...

“Please Don’t Look” is a one-of-a-kind altered book project.  The original book was a 1991 edition of “Gift From the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, which I altered with hand-cutting and heat-transferred images (most of which are either turn-of-the-century portraits or vernacular photographs of unknown women from the 1930’s and 1940’s).  In every image the women are evading the camera’s eye and all of the faces are hidden.  Most of the existing text is gone, leaving only a few phrases and words on each page which form a “found poem” about the unease and longing of women.  Here are a few images from the book, plus the full text of the found poem:

(Are we all under this illusion?)
porcelain perfection
smiling clock faces
I should have remembered long over-due unanswered letters and good intentions.
Empty, open, choiceless waiting.

But I want to be at peace
I want a singleness of eye
I want inner harmony

One can get along, ironically, and for the most part
we, who could chose simplicity, choose complication.
But I am starting, I am looking
The final answer, I know, is always inside.
I journey, up an inwardly winding spiral staircase of thought.

We are all alone.  That is all, alone
separated from my own species.
Here is a strange paradox.
How inexplicable it seems
alone, alone, alone.

“Mother,” “Wife,” “Mistress.”
split into a thousand functions
shattered into a thousand pieces.

Every relationship
            friend or lover, husband or child
every relationship seems simple at its start.
And then how swiftly it becomes complicated
But there are great needs
            a sense of identity
            something to say or give
            being loved for what one really is
can one actually find oneself in the mirror someone else holds up for one?

But we do demand relationships.
Each is sprawling and uneven, untidy, heavily encrusted
one forms ties, roots, the bonds are formed, many bonds, many strands
making up a web fashioned of love
            fragile, intricate and enduring
            humble and awkward
I will not want to leave it.

She was
and she is
and she will infinitely be
grandmother, mother
saint, poet, woman
grandmother, widow

This book was recently selected by The Decatur Arts Alliance to be part of a lovely exhibition of artist's books on display July 19 - September 20, 2013, in the gallery at The Art Institute of Atlanta-Decatur in Decatur, GA.  The exhibit is part of the AJC Decatur Book Festival, the largest independent book festival in the country. Big thanks to jurors Brian Dettmer, Jerushia Graham and Beck Whitehead, for including me.  You can visit an online catalog for the exhibition here.

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