Thursday, December 27, 2007

"Cold heart"

I had this brilliant idea during my morning commute that I should take apart my very first version of one of my artists' books, to make a portfolio for a different set of work. Scavenge for parts. I've done it before with other pieces, and maybe it's not good to get attached to things that stay wrapped in double layers and stashed at the bottom of a pile in a closet that's hard to access. So I pulled it out tonight, unwrapped it, and turned each page. I was surprised by how it struck me anew, all the attention I put into the cyanotypes, the binding, the paper...I worked out a lot of stuff in this version and I can see it now, after making this book three times (2 books the 2nd round, 10 books the 3rd round, setting type TWICE for each version because there weren't enough letters to do the whole book at once). I thought of it as "no big deal" b/c of how cool I wanted to keep it, a book about what was "wrong" with my body and what my mother did to it over the years to make it "perfect." In my mind and files, I often call it the "white book." Terttu calls it the "baby book." The full title is "PROJECT: AIMEE / MISSION: PERFECTION" but I only ever list it as the last two words.

When I first designed it, I knew what text and images I would be using, and its size (big). I was unsure about adding a third layer, to sound an emotive voice, something less clinical. In the end, I left the page blank, since that was part of the emotion. In Wyoming, one of the artists talked to me after my first slide lecture and said she thought that I was too distant, too removed, and recommended giving more to push my work closer to the audience. That I talk about such serious events but give people no way in.

I think this is a symptom of cold heart, which Ching-In and I discussed a week. I never thought I'd end up this way, but I think I have it. I mean, it's not totally frozen over, but I am well on my way if that's my goal. She was funny, b/c she said, "I want it! Then you can't get hurt!" Oh, no. This has been my project for the past how many years? You still get hurt, but usually by your own hand. I made all those freaking bricks to explain that and now they're still haunting me b/c soon they will be arriving on my doorstep with no place to go.

Anyhow, all that to say: I think I'm keeping the first version of this book for a little while longer. For all its perceived flaws, it works (and so the cycle refreshes: the book as me, me as my mom).


  1. So glad you kept your book intact. The flaws are what make it priceless! Same goes for you.

  2. i love this book. that's how i met you.. that was the first of your books i saw, and made me love books. and you don't have a cold heart, are you kidding... i just talked about that with Reet here, that when we were younger we weren't as cautious and protective of ourselves... and it's not that our warm hearts are retiring.. we just might get little bit wiser after each year.


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