Hester . Emma . Sonia
Joni . Annie . Tracy
A Postmodern Feminist Discourse
Ed. 32, (26 Standard and 6 Deluxe: three each of two designs), 10.5 x 7.75 x 1.75 inches; 300-pages, 2021.
Main text excerpted from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” Gustave Flaubert’s “Madam Bovary,” and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.” Concept, designs, typography, artworks, printing, and publishing by Mindy Belloff, NYC. A 3-year project, the edition includes an Introduction, No Text Stands Alone, written by Saul Ostrow, art critic and curator; Afterword Through A Feminist Lens; and Appendix with over 50 bibliography references, over 50 lyric references, and list of over 40 artworks and calligrams. There are over 180 letterpress runs. Standard binding No. 1-26: aqua blue Sokoto leather spine millimeter binding with letterpress printed covers printed by Mindy Belloff, inside custom box with unique middle opening, sewn and bound by Celine Lombardi. Deluxe edition two designs: full leather or leather and parchment, designed by Mindy Belloff, bound by Celine Lombardi, includes two prints. Shipping Fall 2022. Please email IntimaPress at yahoo.com for additional information. HesterEmmaSoniaProspectus
Mindy Belloff’s presentation, “Giving Voice to Women: Examining the Art of the Book of Intima Press Through a Feminist Lens,” from Oak Knoll Fest’s Women and the Book, October 28, 2021, may be viewed through this link (41 minutes for full presentation, or begin at 15 minutes in for this edition): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaGbrPlgpOAR1Gt-5x9owiA/featured
Parenthesis Journal Review Autumn 2023: In her review of Hester . Emma . Sonia, Lauren Graves writes, “Belloff, through her intervention and reworking of the canonical texts, re-presents the narratives to challenge the linearity of each, intervening in the text’s singular, typically masculine reading. Through her countless addendums to the main stories, Belloff presents a cacophony of voices – at times harmonious and occasionally discordant – that encourage the reader to further mine and dissect the book’s text and structure to make room for a subjective, feminist reading. Furthermore, the book’s dialogic and active nature comes forward in the page design….Other voices are found when examining the written word in relation to the many artworks printed alongside the multiple narratives.” She concludes, “I first encountered this book in late 2022, during another round of Covid-19 vaccine boosters and society’s uncertain ‘reopening.’ Despite this progress, I still feel the physical confinement of the pandemic, making Belloff’s ability to span narratives, defy chronologies and timelines, and construct new worlds an even greater wonder. The artist’s intense admiration for the texts of Hester, Emma, and Sonia comes through in the re-narrativizing, design, and production of the book, as well as Belloff’s choice to add borrowed phrases, ideas, and poems. This deeply personal, reflective, and well-crafted book invites and rewards close reading.”
Exhibition: Hester . Emma . Sonia has been on view at the Boston Athenaeum, as part of an installation featuring work in conversation with portraits and self-portraits by women artists, titled Re-Reading Special Collections at the Boston Athenaeum. The ongoing installation reinterprets the National Historic Landmark building’s publicly-accessible first floor to reflect a more expansive view of American art and history across a range of media. By deploying archive-driven historical research and theoretically-informed interpretive frameworks, Re-Reading presents collections items with a critical eye toward the past. Showcasing a diverse array of rare books, works on paper, paintings, and sculptures, the installation brings a fresh perspective to lesser-known and beloved materials alike. https://bostonathenaeum.org/visit/exhibitions/reinstallation/
Hester . Emma . Sonia is a feminist reading of the three literary classics. The volume gives voice to the main female characters, Hester Prynne, Emma Bovary, and Sonia Marmeladov, and presents multiple voices in dialogue.
The subtitle, Joni . Annie . Tracy, highlights contemporary singer-songwriters Joni Mitchell, Annie Lennox, Tracy Chapman and other favored musical artists including Janis Joplin, Etta James, Leon Russell, Paul Simon, Mary J. Blige, Laurie Anderson, and others, whose poetic lyrics provide commentary in the margins. Text of philosophers, writers, and poets such as Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, Karen Horney, Jean-Paul Sartre, Julia Kristeva, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Blake, and Arthur Rimbaud, are incorporated into brilliant typographical designs, deconstructing the original narratives. A selection of text is in Latin, French, and Russian.
Numerous reproductions of artworks: paintings, drawings, and photographs from earlier in the Artist’s 40-year oeuvre, along with recent drawings and calligrams, adorn the pages. Additional references are made to contemporary issues including Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter protests. The three sections are abridged and combined into one volume, reframed to create a critical dialog in the 21st-century. The resulting layered narrative recontextualizes the stories, bringing additional voices to the fore.
Introduction: Saul Ostrow describes the edition as a dialogic. “Dialogic refers to the use of conversation or shared dialogue to explore the meaning of something…The term is used to describe concepts in literary theory and analysis, as well as in philosophy.” (from Wikipedia.org) He describes this volume, as intertextual: that is, no text stands alone – each is understood in the context of other text. “The work is a machine,” he writes, “several systems working in coordination.”
Section I. Hester – main text excerpted from The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850; including English and Latin text from the Malleus Maleficarum (The Witches Hammer, 15th century);
Section II. Emma – text excerpted from Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, 1856 with French translations; including text from Simone deBeauvoir, Virginia Wolff, Hélène Cixous and Catherine Clément and others; and
Section III. Sonia – text excerpted from Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1866, with Russian translations; and text of Julia Kristeva, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Susan Sontag, and others.
In the last chapter of Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” Raskolnikov “dreams that the whole world was condemned to a terrible new strange plague that had come to Europe from the depths of Asia.” This passage referenced in Susan Sontag’s essay “AIDS and its Metaphors” (1990) is addressed in the edition, along with other culturally relevant issues today.
From the Afterword (dated December 2021): I began work on these narratives well over two years ago, before the current global pandemic became a threat, in early March of 2020. In the past year and a half in the United States, we have witnessed a divisive political climate highlighted by the presidential elections of 2016 and 2020, a global climate crisis, and an enormous amount of suffering and loss to the Covid-19 virus. While New York City was under lock-down early in the pandemic to try to contain the spread of the virus, Black Lives Matter protests dominated news throughout the States and in the streets of Manhattan, especially downtown and at Union Square, where my studio is located. This project was delayed as we adjusted to virtual schooling, a growing medical crises in city hospitals, and new realities of mask wearing and social distancing. Plunging oneself into narratives can be a healthy way to balance daily angst, or perhaps a way to simply escape stressors. I surrounded myself with books – including many old friends from graduate days at New York University.
Spending additional hours at home provided more time to read and research, tweak typographical designs for endless hours, and focus on drawings and calligrams. I worked on all three sections together back and forth, before finalizing each one in succession. I fed over 3,600 sheets through my inkjet printer, one at a time, to accommodate the thickness and cotton rag texture. Each folio took about 3 hours to print digitally, not including all the color correction and tweaking I had to do for the images to get them close to the original artworks. There are 75 folios (19 signatures), and there were reprints and many proofs. After printing each small stack, I brought the sheets across town to my studio to print the letterpress portions.There were at least as many hours printing on press over the months. Most of the philosophers’ commentaries are in red ink and songwriters in aqua blue. Other quotes are in grey, with drawings in a small variety of ink colors. The palette is limited and the commentaries and quotes thoughtfully composed with reverence to the history of the book and early illuminations.
Main text and artworks printed on an Epson Professional SureColor P600 inkjet printer with archival pigmented inks, commentaries and calligrams printed letterpress on a Universal III Automatic Adjustable Bed Press (Uni III A/B), on Crane’s cotton rag text weight papers. The volume is 300-pages, consisting of 19 signatures, with back endsheet printed letterpress. The text is digitally typeset in Adobe Jenson Pro with additional fonts (Lydian Cursive MT, Fine Gothic Medium, Luminari, Berliner, Berliner Fraktur, Garamond Premier Pro, and Goudy Text MT). The typography and page compositions were designed in Adobe InDesign over many hours well into the night. Image reproductions of artwork were painstakingly color corrected in Adobe PhotoShop, a selection of drawings and photographs also manipulated in Adobe Illustrator. Mindy Belloff, Intima Press, NYC.
Six deluxe bindings with two different designs to choose from (2 of each available). A black cloth covered box with a beautifully designed center diagonal cover opens in 3-panels, revealing a letterpress printed typographical design in red and aqua blue ink. The head and tail of the book are uniquely hand painted. Inside cover pages are lined with red leather. The deluxe edition includes two leaves or folios suitable for display, including reproductions of an original painting or printed calligram, with commentary text letterpress printed.
Design 1 (Ed. 3): Fine vellum cover of Cowley’s calfskin, hand painted with watercolor and goauche, with sewn linen threads, aqua blue Sokoto goat millimeter binding, title foil stamped in red. Book inside letterpress printed chemise. Unique box in black book cloth with inside covers letterpress printed. Designed, printed, and painted by Mindy Belloff, bound by Celine Lombardi.
Design 2 (Ed. 3): Aqua blue full leather cover of Sokoto goat with red leather spine binding, black raven images foil-stamped, and hand painted gray leather onlay, title foil-stamped on fine Cowley’s vellum calfskin.