Maureen Cummins, 2016. Hardcover. One of 40 copies. Signed the artist. In this powerful work, noted book artist Maureen Cummins investigates the dark side of the history of psychosurgery, as exemplified by the career of Doctor Walter Freeman (1895-1972), a professor of neurology who became known as the father of lobotomy by single-handedly popularizing the pre-frontal lobotomy in America. Although he had no formal training in either surgery or psychology, Freeman modified the traditional procedure for lobotomies by driving ice picks through his patients’ eye sockets rather than drilling into the skull to sever nerve connections in the prefrontal cortex to treat mental illness. Despite his championing of his procedure he admitted that lobotomies often created childlike behavior or a vegetative state in patients. Hundreds of patients died. The controversial procedure also raised numerous questions about patients’ rights, the abuse of institutional power, and the disproportionate targeting of women. Of the more than 3000 patients that Freeman operated on, two-thirds were women. Cummins uses physical rape as an analogy for neurological penetration, a form of sexualized violence that was perpetuated for decades in the name of medical progress. She visualizes this by a series of laser cut holes that bore through each page, becoming smaller page by page.The holes penetrate reproduced images of lobotomy patients’ heads and on the last page the title “The Rapist” becomes “Therapist?” The images of women are from 'before-and-after” photos used in Freeman’s textbook, which are re-contextualized, with lines of typography serving as blindfolds, reclaiming for these women a measure of dignity, humanity, and anonymity. The pages of the book are laser-cut aluminum with silkscreen-printed text and imagery. The covers are also laser-cut aluminum with a large hole that reveals the subsequent holes and "The" and "rapist" on either side of the cover's hole. The pages are attached to the cover by two ring binders. Housed in an aluminum box with a metal title label affixed to the top. In fine condition. 16 pages. 24” x 9” x 1” open 12” x 9” x 1 closed. ARTISTSB/100419. Fine.
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Chicago: Starshaped Press, 2019. Hardcover. Number 6 of 50 copies. Signed and numbered by the book artist. This powerful book was created by book artist and printer Jen Farrell to describe the pain and anguish she experienced as Jo, her young daughter, was treated in 2018 to stem the growth of tumor nodules around her right lung. She writes: "While the treatments were challenging, the fallout that followed over the winter was unbearable. The chest pressure, pneumonitis and inability to breathe sent us to the hospital repeatedly, with unsatisfactory results. By ‘unsatisfactory’ I mean punching-a-hole-in-the-wall angry at the lack of understanding about why Jo had these side effects and the weeks, sometimes months, it took to get appointments with specialists. I sought solace in songs that directed my frustration away from people around me. One of these was Black Star’s Respiration, with lyrics that expressed a metaphorical difficulty to breathe in an urban environment. Many of the words applied to our reality; rewriting the lyrics was an outlet for acknowledging the trauma....Respiration is a rewrite of the song, but in this case applied to watching my child struggle to breathe." The book unfolds as a poster measuring 20x14 inches that folds down to approximately 5x 7 inches within red paper covered boards. The covers are printed in two colors on Mohawk Keakolour and the interior text is printed on Fabriano Tiziano paper with ‘fuzz’ in the texture as a nod to the scarring fuzz in Jo’s lungs. The book is accompanied by a white folded paper reference guide to the lyrics with notes on Jen's rewrites. In fine condition. Fine.
Chicago: Starshaped Press, 2018. Hardcover. 54 of 100 copies, including 15 in deluxe hand-colored edition. Signed and numbered by the artist. These forms were originally set and printed in the Fall of 2015 as the artist was dealing with the declining health of her late husband. The forms were rebuilt in 2018 for this edition, which is the first edition offered for sale. "While my husband battled cancer in 2015-16, Starshaped Press was my refuge, type my therapist. With every disheartening deliverance of bad news during the day, I raced to the shop at night, setting 25 symbolic typographic images. September 25th was our anniversary as well as the date of his diagnosis. Tiny typeset forms featured lyrics from the soundtrack of our life unraveling... a mini mixtape of grief. I printed and gave them to my husband, a testament to our shared sense of loss. 'Put It In a Letter' showcases these forms & feelings in a star-shaped book, sampling lyrics remixed with handset vintage type and ornaments" (book artist). Featured lyrics are taken from songs by Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Bob Dylan, Wilco, Yo La Tengo, Frightened Rabbit, Dum Dum Girls, and more. Accordion bound with grey paper covered boards titled in red on front cover. Letterpress printed using metal type and many ornaments on fine paper. Housed in a grey cardstock slipcase with dark grey title to spine and front panels. Size in case: about 4.75 x 4.75 inches. PRI/051319. Fine.