Maureen Cummins, 2021. Hardcover. Number 8 of 20 copies signed and numbered by the book artist. Maureen Cummins is a noted creator of artists' books. Her work is held in over one hundred permanent public collections internationally and has been included in exhibitions at the American Craft Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Rotunda Gallery (amongst others). She has received over a dozen grants and awards and has been an artist-in-residence at numerous venues, including the American Antiquarian Society and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Maureen writes about this compelling work: "This edition is based on a unique book of the same title created for an exhibition of the artist's work, "ReReading Disaster," which was held in the spring of 2021 at Woodstock Artists Association and Museum. ReCategorized was inspired by, and made use of, original press photographs that depicted displaced war refugees. Most prints were purchased from Historic Images. The images in this edition were scanned and digitally reproduced and mounted onto handmade sheets of St. Armand black." The book explores the challenges faced by librarians in creating classification systems for materials, especially ones that involve human subjects. "While collecting documents about displaced populations for the Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary project, Cummins found herself intrigued by the backs of press photographs. These surfaces resembled twentieth-century collages, with pasted-down copies of printed articles, rubber stampings, and handwritten classifications for filing purposes.
As she examined these texts and images, Cummins noticed not only the reporters’ red-baiting and jokey racism (the headline “Sun-thing in the air” was used to describe a displaced Vietnamese woman wearing a conical Asian hat), but another, more subtly disturbing pattern: descriptors used by cataloguers to identify subjects in the photographs, intended to facilitate easy retrieval, were later, as events progressed, crossed out and altered. For example, “KW-destinations,” “Vietnam-People,” “Germany-East-People,” and Pakistan- People,” became, respectively: “KW-Refugees,” “Vietnam-North-Refugees,” “Germany- East-Refugees,” and simply “Refugees.” In all but one of the twelve examples included in the book, the word “people” was changed to “refugee;” in other cases, nuanced descriptors such as “war” and “revolt” were eliminated, along with the names of destination countries and countries-of-origin. Like the experience of war and trauma itself, rich human lives were reduced to and defined by loss. For this edition, high quality digital prints, scanned from documents used in the original book, were tipped onto pages of St. Armand black, a deeply saturated paper handmade in France. The title page of each copy also incorporates a unique piece of printed matter pulled from a historical press photograph" [From the prospectus]. Bound in cream cloth with black cloth spine and title label to front cover. In fine condition. The book measures 11 x 15 inches. 32 pages, ARTISTSB/102121. Fine.