Molten II – Erotic Bookworks – in the Reading Room

Exhibit Dates: February 13 – March 28, 2009

An invitational exhibition featuring erotic book works that transcend the merely pornographic or
 explicit, that quietly arouse, that leave space in which imaginations can cavort and thus appeal
 to most adult viewers, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or sexual identity.

 Curated by Alicia Bailey, whose erotic bookworks are held in numerous public and private collections worldwide this exhibit features several of her pieces. 
”As both artist and curator, I have kept in mind that erotic needn’t mean only explicit; needn’t only include realms of physical sensation; eros touches the spiritual, mental and emotional realms of experience as well.”

The exhibition also includes books by Brenda Gallagher, Warren Buss, Jenny Craig , Mia Semingson, MaryAnn Riker , Roberta Lavadour, Gregory Paul Santos, Jules Seigel and Stephanie Marinone as well as selections from gallery inventory.

Brenda Gallagher (Niwot, CO) exhibits 2 ‘bed books’ which, although similar in size, structure and intent use 2 different texts, one (Never in a Bed) written by Gallagher and the second (Come on Down) with lyrics by Colorado singer/songwriter Beth Amsel.

 I like to think of myself as an emerging book artist. I fell in love with the book arts ten years ago when I took my first book binding class. On the surface it is the smell of the leather and wax and the feel of the paper that draws me to it. Deeper down I’m attracted to the combination of an unlimited medium that could take any shape, size, or use limitless choice of materials, paired with meticulous craft. I get to feel the free flow of unbounded creativity, no boundaries tempered by the discipline of fine craft. I look forward to the next opportunity to create something that has a message that is real, in a form that is inspiring.

Warren Buss (Beaverton, OR) exhibits Deshabille, an exquisite limited edition piece incorporates layers of fabric, thread, handwritten and laserprinted text to present ‘that long dialogue about love’

Statement: What is truly sensual is of-the-moment in which it is happening: it is before we have words to describe it, and has no component of memory, only direct experience.

So what happens when we make sensual objects? It seems paradoxical — clothing a transient experience in the guise of a physical object. And the book, more than many other art forms, comes as a fully dressed object: ideas expressed into words, words ordered onto pages, pages gathered into signatures, signatures sewn into bindings. But still the events about which a book speaks happen in a moments of undressed experience. Is it possible to work backward, undress the book, find again the original experience while still containing it in a book structure?

Or do we lose something by trying to distill experience into objects? Is creating an object to remember something akin to Orpheus looking back at Eurydice and losing her forever?

Jenny Craig (Seattle, WA) also exhibits a limited edition piece. Tail is elegant in simplicity with letterpress text on a gate-fold accordian. Each copy of the edition of 51 has one of Jenny’s long hairs running through the entire text block.

Statement: My hair is long, and this causes a fascination in others. It is a source of some perplexity to me, because the main reason my hair is long is that I ignore it entirely. I take pleasure in my hair – in the weight of the braid, in the color, in the soft cloak of it when I brush it out – but these feelings are only mildly erotic, and I don’t spend a great deal of time fussing with it. I am not a traditionally beautiful person, but there are people who desire my hair. I enjoy being desired, so I don’t quibble, and I may have fantasies involving it, but I will leave that to your imagination. It’s an odd, lively thing, my hair.
The idea behind this book is to articulate some of the things I am thinking about when people walk up and take liberties with my hair, which happens quite a lot. It’s incredibly satisfying to put it in print, but don’t take it too seriously, because I don’t. Each book includes one of my very longest hairs. I cull them periodically for the book, when I think I have a few that are long enough.

Mia Semingson (Lafayette, CO) also explores the use of hair and the contrast between thoughts of eros and the creepiness of hoarding hair for a decade. Her piece, Memorabilia, sandwiches hair collected over a decade in between plexiglass, cased into a book form.

Statement: Hair holds a fascination for all cultures. It is one of the only parts of the human body which at the same time is capable of painless amputation, infinite manipulation, and for the most part endless regeneration. Hair, by its physical properties, suggests a state of life in death (it can continue to grow after we die), and death in life (hair is composed of dead cells). It is different from the body because it is shed throughout life and in a sense it is capable of living a life of its own. Attached it visually belongs to the person, but it is not integral to his or her corporeal substance. Once detached, it has the ability to refer back to that person like a fetish.
I am utterly fascinated with hair, mine and other people’s. It is luscious and radiant, decorative and dangling, yielding and soft.  I am interested in what form hair is beautiful or acceptable and what form we find it grotesque.  In the Victorian era, before the invention of photography, people collected hair and made hair wreaths, necklaces, earrings, and watch chains as a tangible remembrance of their loved ones. In 1839 the daguerreotype, the first photographic process was invented. Soon photographic images of loved ones began appearing in jewelry along with hair. But the coming of this new technology was the demise of hair objects due to the detail and “life like” representation of the person, and over time replaced it completely. Memorabilia revisits this history of hair and its reference to a particular person. Life a photo album, this book holds and displays a piece of me collected over a period of 10 years.

Maryann Riker (Phillipsburg, NJ) exhibits two miniature button books from the Button series. Each one inch circular book is a an absolutely charming piece with buttons for front covers.

Statement: A presentation of Rococo masterpieces that focus on one area — (either the gluteus maximus or the belly button.) A small accordion format book with a real button for the cover unfolds to present this humorous display.

Roberta Lavadour (Pendleton, OR) has 2 pieces in the exhibit.

Statements: That’s the Way I Like it (Today), 2009
 This work was inspired by Jan Voss’ “Wartelist” (1984), which allowed the collector to purchase a variable number of additional sheets for the book, making the character’s wait at the bus stop as long or short as desired. In this work, the viewer can use post screws of different various lengths and printed pages to create a book as long or as short, as quiet or noisy, or as monotone or accelerated as desired. The book can be disassembled and pages used to recreate a different experience for each viewer.

Dangerous Chemistry, The original manifestation for this work was designed as a rebellion to the election of George W. Bush (“The ought to be limits to freedom”), but, with the dawn of a new era, I wanted to recontextualize it in a more humane and personal way.

Gregory Paul Santos (New York, NY) exhibits Pillow Book a piece originally bound to be the guestbook for a 2001 exhibit called The Erotic Works. Upon its completion the curator decided that the sensual texture of the covering material along with the direct sexual content of a vibrator being literally screwed through the front case were cause for the binding to become a part of the exhibit and to not be used as the guestbook.

The blank text block now serves as a catalyst for the viewer’s perverse lusts, sexual dreams, or taboo desires while also providing a platform to record and document any secret eroticism.

Jules Siegel (Cancun, Mexico) exhibits Memoir A handwritten illustrated novel
A digitally printed trade paperback it is available in two versions. One is straight from LuLu the other signed and personally endorsed, $100; unsigned $23.86

The private erotic diary of a mysterious artist, his beautiful wife, and her tempting sister, in a steamy tropical fishing village where there are no roads, no electricity, and no escape from each other or their memories.
Written in my own calligraphic hand, with many sketches and other illustrations, Memoir dissolves through reality, dreams, fantasies and visions of tender explicit sex and unrequited love. Unlike many “literary” novels, however, Memoir is a pleasure to read, as the text and the visual presentation combine to tell the story in vivid detail.
Originally published in 1975 an edition of 350 copies, this book established me as a book artist. It was exhibited at Franklin Furnace along with my other literary art works, and is now in the Artists Books Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Stephanie Morinone (Portland, OR) has 3 mixed media pieces in the exhibition. Two of the three, Woman’s Herbal Kit and Ritual Passage include tantalizing smells, the third,  Silent Treacle, has pages rich with beeswax.

Statement: The objects that I create are aphrodisiacs, seductive pieces that encourage you to read, smell and touch them, objects that excite your animalistic yearning for sensory understanding.

Often I ponder the ways we encourage or invade our desires within the solitude of our minds and through fabricated items and environments. One book I made titled Ritual Passage contains light brown, arm-length, leather pages each separately sewn into a leather cover and closed with a bone clasp. The text and symbols are burnt into the pages to give the book an otherworldly, ancient feel. The story is a myth about the transformation of a girl through a sacred yet abstract ritual based on a dream from my childhood.

I define desire as a yearning that is undeniably felt and to which one hopes to satisfy or repress. I have been exploring desire in my work and believe that it is not just sexual; it is a need that drives a person. I have a vital need for beauty, knowledge, strength, and healing.

More images and price details of all of these pieces can be found in the Flickr Album linked to this blog.

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