Druckworks: Forty Years of Books and Projects of Johanna Drucker
Johanna Drucker printed her first letterpress book in 1972 and has been active as an writer, typographic poet, and scholar-critic ever since. While widely known for her contributions to contemporary art theory and history, she is also a prolific creative artist with more than four dozen artist’s books to her credit. Her writings have helped shape the field of artists’ books, visual poetics, and digital aesthetics in dialogue with the arts and critical issues. This comprehensive retrospective exhibits her books, graphic art, and visual projects. A catalogue accompanies the exhibit that includes commentary and essays by a wide range of well-known critics including Jerome McGann, Marjorie Perloff, Susan Bee, Emily McVarish, Brad Freeman, Kyle Schlesinger, Craig Dworkin, and others.
The exhibition contained works in editioned and unique form. In the late 1970s, the imprint under which the editioned works were produced was Chased Press (combining the metal chase, the gendered environment, and the chaste pun); by the late 1970s, Johanna switched to Druckwerk, though a number of these works bear only a copyright and Johanna's name as the imprimature.
Books offered a private arena in which to express an ambitious and yet secret, intensely personal, investment of energy. My desire to make books combined a drive to write the world into being, to claim experience through its representation in language, with the desire to make closure and containment, to shut the word within the covers of a finished work held, saved, retained. Two themes run through the works: the first is the exploration of the conventions of narrative prose and the devices by which it orders, sequences, and manipulates events according to its own logic; the second is the use of experimental typography to expand the possibilities of prose beyond the linear format of traditional presentation.
Click here for information on the Druckworks Exhibit at the San Francisco Center for the Book.