by J. Drucker
In 1976 I took a trip to Los Angeles with Jim Petrillo and Betsy Davids, then Rebis Press, so that we could do a number of performances at a theater in Hollywood, meet book dealers, and other things. That trip formed the basis of this book, but the immediate prompting for its title and form was a visit we paid to a young book dealer interested in making his way and ours in the world. His recommendation was to make work that fit various niches. Alphabet books, travel books, books of private letters, books about the bicentennial year -- these were categories that would guarantee sales to collectors of those genres or specialized topics. 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. So cryptic and coded was the text of this book that I think it would require rather an extreme amount of gloss to even signal to a collector that this book is of ANY genre, let alone all of those. The conceptual foundation of the book was more profound, since it was a work about language and landscape, experience and representation. In its first version (the existing pages are the residual half of original sheets twice their size), the book had etching on the top and text on the bottom. For various reasons, logistical and aesthetic, the etchings were ditched. (Logistical -- I was trying to print at CCAC in the hours before the print shop opened so that I could do this undetected and basically illegally before going to work at the West Coast Print Center and all in all it was just too much to try to do). (Aesthetic -- I don't recall the etchings very well, but they weren't coming out the way I had planned. A later book, done in Amsterdam, took up some of the issues in those etching and made them into a book in The Experience of the Medium). The essential issues motivating the book structure were to deconstruct a narrative into constituent elements by collapsing the temporal continuum onto a single plane of present -- the space of the pages. Each acts as such a screen for the sum total of the narrative elements in its small "chapter" of events. A sense of foreground, middle ground, and other references to the spatialized information of projected images (basic perspective) organizes some of the language. But the language themes in this book also include a narrative, found visual language, overheard language, and metalanguage and puns -- all to tell the "story" of our weird trip.
title note: The following subtitles also appear on the title page: Let Her's not a matter of permission 2:J & B [A. Schutte]
born: United States
active: United States
citizenship: United States
publisher: Chased Press
publication history: Produced entirely by Johanna Drucker from July to December, 1976. [A. Schutte]
artists' books (LCSH)
themes: Los Angeles, language, structure, form, and narrative. [J. Drucker]
experimental text (local)
artists' book (local)
inspiration: Hard to say, the work is truly idiosyncratic in conception and execution. [J. Drucker]
related works: Experience of the Medium, and Quantum, are both related. The first because it became the means to realize the sequential etching project I had wanted to include so that the landscape projection and temporal unfolding of events in a single image space could be visualized. The second because it uses space/time to divide the page and organize page sequence. Also, the annotated edition is a related work. [J. Drucker]
other influences: none, though Alistair Johnston wanted to believe this was a Mallarmean undertaking. [J. Drucker]
community: press West Coast Print Center and Rebis Press [J. Drucker]
exhibition history: The work was first "performed" rather than exhibited in a Grand Piano reading series.
manuscript type: other
location: artist's archive
note: Doubt much is left. All the mauscript materials I had from this period were jettisoned when I left for Greece in the fall of 1977.
For all its obscurity (and it is practically just remnants and fragments of langauge code, unless read in the glossed, annotated version) this is still a visually interesting work. Every page has that "balance" that mobiles have, and the often spare typography calls attention to the object status of each linguistic phrase or word. [J. Drucker]