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The Work of Johanna Drucker

›› Introduction to the Exhibit by Johanna Drucker

  • Dark, The Bat Elf Banquets the Pupae (1972)


    "Dark was born of dreams and drugs, of hallucinatory meanderings and quasi-mediumistic focus. The text was channelled as much as it was written..."

  • As No Storm or the Any Port Party (1975)


    "Thick with double entendres, allusions, puns, it is the story of a failed New Year's party I attended with my parents in what must have been the winter 1974-75."

  • Twenty-six '76 (1976)


    "His recommendation was to make work that fit various niches...Thinking myself clever indeed, I returned to the Bay Area and wrote this travel book of private letters as alphabet book composed in the bicentennial year."

  • The Surprise Party Or (1977)


    "clever, mean-spirited caricatures of four people. As a book-object, it was sufficient to its purpose--meant to look like a party favor, designed to have the ephemerality and immediate appeal of a birthday present."

  • Fragile (1977)


    "This book was published on my birthday in 1977, at least, it was printed all on that day, out of a desire to show that I had a history to my own writing."

  • From A to Z (1977)


    "The premise of this book was to take the type in 48 drawers of type, make a text that made sense, and use all of the elements in the fonts once and only once. The book was to be a pseudo-bibliography..."

  • Experience of the Medium (1978)


    "I would make a series of interventions on the surface of an etching plate, and write about them, noting the ways in which each successive state changed the status, role, and identity of the marks as they accumulated."

  • Netherland: [How] So Far (1978)


    "his book, very simply, was about that experience. Direct, observed, succinct and tightly scripted, the lines of the writing seemed aptly served by the narrow, compact type."

  • Kidz (1979)


    "The text is a scree against patriarchy and authority, an anti-Oedipal stream of maniac infantilism in dark prose, but meant to be funny, outrageous, irreverent."

  • Italy (1980)


    "Self in these projects is the place from which and through which observation is synthesized ...Subjectivity is radically constituted in the process, and has no pre-existing shape except as a set of calibrated filters."

  • Jane Goes Out w' the Scouts (1980)


    "...this project combined a desire to write something for Alistair Johnston in response to his obsession with photographing young girls and...create a little book work that would have perfect fine press credentials."

  • 'S crap 'S ample (1980)


    "The book is structured as a sample book...Lifting each flap reveals yet more intimate and interior thoughts, and flipping the pages up to see the text on the underside goes yet farther into private thought."

  • Dolls of the Spirit (1980)


    "The idea of an emblem book that used implements, rather than icons or religious allegories, was inspiring...images of objects that had the capacity to be transformative in some direct, physical way..."

  • It Happens Pretty Fast (1982)


    "...conceived as a set of combinatoric elements for production of weird narratives. The blunt, declarative sentences and the highly iconic images were meant to comprise semantic units."

  • Tongues: a parent language (1982)


    "This book was created as a New Year's greeting at the beginning of 1982. The text was extracted from Simon Frith's The Tongues of Man, a short study of the history of language."

  • Just As (1983)


    "all of the images in this book are drawn from real places and experiences in Oakland and San Francisco. The warehouse, downtown, 80 Langton Street...the weird science fiction and popular culture dreams of the early 1980s."

  • Against Fiction: Organized Affinities (1983)


    "The book embodied the conflicts I had with the traditions of fiction in which I had been steeped as a young writer and the terms of literary production I was being exposed to in the Bay Area literary scene..."

  • Spectacle (1984)


    "First the stories began, and then they would be broken off and continued at a random place, further into the notebook...Little by little, the notebook was full of segments of text with blanks in between."

  • Through Light and the Alphabet (1986)


    "The text is a polemic against the limits of language as the defining boundary of experience...The point of the project was to use material means, typographic possibilities, to proliferate meaning within a single text."

  • Bookscape (1988)


    "the larger project involved creation of a large, unique book object, a hand-made box, covered in gold, with small silver boxes inside, each of which was an object with text."

  • Sample Dialog (1989)
    in collaboration with Emily McVarish


    "This project was conceived as a type sample book and as a dialogue between the collaborators...in a rush of final energy, we printed the whole thing in about a day."

  • The Word Made Flesh (1989)


    "made as distinct formulations in response to theoretical issues in writing and ecriture...The typographic format of the Word Made Flesh was meant to trip the eye, return one constantly to the plane of discourse..."

  • Simulant Portrait (1990)


    "In the late 1980s, I was still involved in working on the biography of Ilia Zdanevich (Iliazd)...Simulant Portrait was conceived to mimic that process of research."

  • History of the/my Wor(l)d (1990)


    "Several themes interweave in this book: a feminist rewriting of the history of the world, an opposition between official history and personal memory, a critique of feminist theoretical attitudes towards language..."

  • OTHERSPACE: Martian Ty(o)pography (1992)
    in collaboration with Brad Freeman


    "...we were looking at images of the Mars lander; the photo caption included the phrase 'Martian topography.' Almost simultaneously we said aloud, "'Martian TYpography.'"

  • Deterring Discourse (1993)


    "The feeling that poetry, creative language, political essays, direct writing...were essential to keeping open a window or space in the rapidly closing, locking-down realm of language was urgent and compelling."

  • Narratology (1994)


    "The book was an exercise on interweaving versions of my own history, fantasy, imagined projections through tales and texts read and studied over the years."

  • Three Early Fictions (1994)


    "The texts in this book were written in the early 1980s...The fictions are abstract, figurative, dense, complex, and reflect the best of my efforts in this mode at the time."

  • Dark Decade (1995)


    "...it was meant to be an accurate portrait of American culture in the 1980s...The fragmentary pastiche of plots, sketches of characters from imagined tales, popular and pulp...were echoed in the images."

  • The Current Line (1996)


    Written as a protest, a statement of grim irony, in which the "line" of the then current administration (older Bush) was so evidently a hypocritical double speak..."

  • Prove Before Laying (1997)


    "The idea of taking utterly new fonts of type, upper and lower case, in all their pristine newness and perfection, as a ground from which language would arise, was seductive."

  • Nova Reperta (2000)
    in collaboration with Brad Freeman


    "...we were fascinated by the suite of prints Stradanus had created, and by his faith in the ability of visual means to depict and communicate knowledge..."

  • Nightcrawlers on the Web (2000)


    "Digital media and information technology became the center of my intellectual and professional life...This book was conceived as a playful expression of the imaginative resonses provoked by conversation..."

  • Emerging Sentience (2001)
    in collaboration with Brad Freeman


    "The conceptual foundation of the project is expressed concisely in its title: to make a work about sentience as an emergent property of intelligent systems."

  • Quantum (2001)


    "The book was conceived as a field, a dynamic space, in which the reading intervened, as per the nature of intervention into quantum space."

  • A Girl's Life (2002)
    in collaboration with Susan Bee


    "The inspiration for the book was what I call the 'pink magazines'...the hybrid sensibility produced exactly the look of lost innocence we were after for the project."

  • Damaged Spring: Pink Noire (2003)


    "...my longstanding desire to make a distinctly neo-expressionist response to current events, had long been developing the vision that manifest fully in this work."

  • From Now (2005)


    "The project makes use of snippets, fragments, bits and pieces of different kinds of writing projects, most deliberately granting each autonomoy within a whole."