Hester . Emma . Sonia
A Postmodern Feminist Discourse
Artist, designer, printer, publisher, Mindy Belloff.
Introduction: No Text Stands Alone, written by Saul Ostrow, art critic and curator.
Ed. 32, (Standard 26, Deluxe full leather, three each of two designs), 10.5 x 7.75 x 1.75 inches; 300-pages, 26 Standard binding: leather spine with letterpress printed covers, inside custom clamshell box, 2021. Includes an Introduction, Afterword (Through A Feminist Lens), and Appendix with over 50 bibliography references, list of over 50 lyric references, and list of over 40 artworks and calligrams. Currently taking pre-publication orders, shipping expected late January 2022.
Main text and artworks printed on an Epson Professional SureColor P600 inkjet printer with archival pigmented inks, most commentary and calligrams printed letterpress on a Universal III Automatic Adjustable Bed Press (Uni III A/B), on Crane’s cotton rag text weight papers. 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, some drawings and photographs also manipulated in Adobe Illustrator. Concept, design, typography, research, and printing by Mindy Belloff. Standard edition quarter bound leather with letterpress printed covers, sewn and bound by Sophia Kramer, printed by Mindy Belloff. Deluxe edition two designs: one full leather bound by Sophia Kramer, and one leather and parchment bound by Celine Lombardi. Additional information and photos forthcoming. Please inquire for prospectus and email to be included on mailing list.
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 here (41 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaGbrPlgpOAR1Gt-5x9owiA/featured
Hester . Emma . Sonia is a feminist reading of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Gustave Flaubert’s Madam Bovary, and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. This volume gives voice to the three main female characters, Hester Prynne, Emma Bovary, and Sonia Marmeladov.
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, Annie Lennox 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.
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….Dialogic processes refer to implied meaning in words. Dialogic works carry on a continual dialogue that includes interaction with previous information presented. 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 Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Susan Sontag, and others.
In the last chapter of Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” Raskolnikov “dreamt 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.
Process: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 election of 2016, a global climate crisis, and an enormous amount of suffering and loss to the Covid-19 virus and its recent Delta variant. 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 where my family lives, 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.