Emily Martin, “Desdemona In Her Own Words”

Martin-1
Title page and end sheet in position in the clamshell box. Title page printed letterpress from a polymer plate on Arches text wove. End sheet of duplexed Bugra paper, blue on one side, green on the other. Sheet word magnets attached to a sheet metal liner inside both trays of the clamshell box.

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A detail view of the individual magnets for each of Desdemona’s words taken from the play Othello. When distilled to eliminate duplicates Desdemona’s words total 710.

Martin-3
A detail view of the image page for Act 1. The page is printed in four colors of rubber based ink on two different SP15 Vandercook proof presses using handset type and wire; and collagraphs using wonder foam, flexi-cut, hand made corn fiber paper from Andrea Peterson and grit from the grounds of Penland.

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A detail view of the image page for Act 3. The page is printed in four colors of rubber based ink on two different SP15 Vandercook proof presses using handset type and wire; and collagraphs using wonder foam, flexi-cut, hand made corn fiber paper from Andrea Peterson and grit from the grounds of Penland.

Martin-5
The image page for Act 5 in position in the clamshell box. The page is printed in four colors of rubber based ink on two different SP15 Vandercook proof presses using handset type and wire; and collagraphs using wonder foam, flexi-cut, hand made corn fiber paper from Andrea Peterson and grit from the grounds of Penland.

 


 
Emily Martin (Iowa City, IA)
emilymartin.com

Desdemona In Her Own Words
2015
Letterpress and relief printing
Edition of 14
Pages: 9
Dimensions open: 20 x 30 x 1
Dimensions closed: 20 x 14 x 1.5

For the last 4 years I have been working with Shakespeare’s tragedies, reading and rereading the plays, distilling the themes. The first was The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, a carousel book exploring the futility of the circular conflicts rather than the star crossed romance. The second is Desdemona In Her Own Words, a book in pages from the play Othello with a particular interest in Desdemona. To me Desdemona was dismayingly passive. I isolated Desdemona’s lines and made a set of individual word magnets so I could arrange and rearrange her words to see what else she might say. While I cannot make Desdemona say some of the things I wished she would, she speaks for herself here, not as anyone’s pawn. And I found that in the time I have spent with Desdemona’s words I developed a greater appreciation for the language of the play. The result is this very short play consisting of a prelude, five acts and a coda. Some of the lines are addressed specifically to Othello, Iago or the supporting characters Emilia, Cassio and Brabantio whom I took to thinking of as a combined chorus figure and two lines are addressed to the world at large. This book is the second of a series of works examining the re-ordered lines for Desdemona.

The writing of the re-ordered lines was completed in the fall of 2013. The images were begun during the 2014 winter residency at Penland School of Crafts. Preliminary drawings were done in advance of the residency. The images themselves were composed at the press using a variety of materials that allowed not only for spontaneous assembly, such as bent wire and collagraphs using adhesive foams, but these materials could also be altered and adjusted immediately as needed. The images were completed in my studio over the next year.

I have always sought to match the format of my books to the content I am exploring. As a result, Desdemona In Her Own Words is a book of individual pages to allow each of Desdemona’s statements to be seen as stand-alone declarations, each page is contained in a folder to denote its place in this new play. The pages are printed in four colors of rubber based ink on two different SP15 Vandercook proof presses using handset type and wire, wonder foam, flexi-cut, hand made corn fiber paper from Andrea Peterson and grit from the grounds of Penland. The paper is Sakamoto lightweight. The title page, colophon page and the folder papers are Arches Text Wove. The end sheets are duplexed Bugra paper. The book pages are 19 inches tall and 13 inches wide. All is contained in a cloth covered clamshell box that is lined with sheet metal covered with Sakamoto paper to hold a complete set of Desdemona’s individual word magnets.



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