Shana Agid, “Ground Rules”



Shana Agid
New York, New York

Ground Rules
handmade paper with watermark, letterpress printing, handsewn; cover is folded paper with sewn pattern
12″ x 12″ closed, sections are (1) 11″ x 85″, (2) 11″ x 51″, (3) 11″ x 85″ open

Artist Statement

Ground Rules investigates the fine line between being in and out of control in the face of illness and death. The book combines writing about caring for my mom as she was living with and dying of lung cancer with writing shaped through my archival research of umpires’, owners’, and players’ efforts to control playing conditions in baseball through a structure that engages the precariousness of the body and of individual and social bodies to one another. Through investigation into histories and the language of a game that was our common focus during my mom’s illness, baseball becomes a metaphor think through treatment, end-of-life decision[1]making, and being left behind. The text takes up the complexity of desires for control, coming to a focus on the intertwining histories of militarism, cancer treatment, and baseball, and a fundamental inquiry into the idea of “battle” as a preferred, habitual framework in the United States.

Ground Rules is letterpress printed on a Vandercook Proof Press from polymer plates. The paper is cotton, handmade by the artist with a watermark in each section representing the outfield wall of a baseball park. Additionally, each section is bound with a single sewn line through the center three pages, representing another ballpark, and connecting each page at just the point where it meets the next. The binding is a paper envelope with decorative stitching. When each section is fully opened, the three watermarks and sewn lines representing six of the parks featured in the text are visible.

In my artist’s books and prints, I investigate relationships of history, desire, and power and the shapes they take in everyday living. Combining writing, images, and book forms, I create works that weave together personal stories and narratives derived from archival research and interviews with practitioners in fields from medicine to baseball. My books and prints draw out unlikely metaphors and the questions that emerge from them to imagine means for making provisional, partial sense of regular but confounding experiences – desire, love, grief, nostalgia, violence – by envisioning a multitude of relations to them.