Lyall Harris and Patricia Silva, “Without Fault; Sans Defauts”

Content overview

Subject Female A overview

Stitching sampler interior detail

Sleeve pages

Subject Female B spread


Lyall Harris and Patricia Silva (San Francisco, CA)

Without Fault; Sans Defauts
file format with various compiled materials, photography, appropriated imagery, stitching, housed in an envelope
Edition of 2
Dimensions open: 11 3/4 x 16 3/4 x 1/4 in
Dimensions closed: 11 3/4 x 8 3/8 x 1/2 in

The starting inspiration for book artists Patricia Silva and Lyall Harris for the collaborative work, Without Fault; Sans Défauts, was a 1950s French fashion publication, which included clothing patterns and outdated beauty advertisements. Added to this was a found Italian book from 1979 about female beauty and cosmetic surgery.

Silva and Harris’ collaboration process begins with one artist providing the inspiration and starting materials; the receiving artist then works for 2 weeks, bringing the project to a “halfway” point, materials may be added or edited during this phase without straying too far from the initial supplies provided; the project is then given back to the originating artist who finishes the books in two weeks time (edition size 2).

This project employs a quasi-medical file format to present and explore issues around “ideal” female beauty and the role of women in the home and in society. The layers of data, commentary, and supporting materials brave difficult terrain while both formally and metaphorically suggesting a variety of connections between the personal and the public.

Technical/material description: The books, housed in manila envelopes, are compilations with contents ranging from the scientific to the material: labeled photos of the artists’ and statistical data to a sampler of actual suturing techniques. Text is handwritten, typed, and inkjet printed; dress patterns and appropriated imagery are also included; plastic surgery procedures and historically accepted views about women are referenced.

In all of the joint projects to date, the finished books seem rooted in a unified aesthetic and made by one hand. More than a set intention, this is a natural outcome of the collaboration between these two artists.