Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vivilore 2011, Altered Book

(Above: Vivilore 2011. Collage. 14" x 60". Click on image to enlarge.)

A couple of weekends ago I participated in the SC Book Festival, sharing an artist's booth with Pat Callahan and wrapping nails while talking to people passing by. I also happened to purchase a book ... an old one called Vivilore: The Pathway to Mental and Physical Perfection; The 20th Century Book for Every Woman (1904).

(Above: Vivilore 2011, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

The volume was in terrible shape. The covers weren't attached to the binding. Pages were literally falling out ... but ... how could I resist it? One chapter is called "Childbirth Made Easy". Instantly I knew pages from this text would make a perfect background for a collage on feminism. Since I was asked to participate in an upcoming exhibit called "Pretty Girls: A Feminist Perspective Through Art, I bought the book. This is the result. I had a blast making this piece.

(Above: Vivilore 2011, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

Important women's portrait are included. From left to right, they are: Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Stanton (whose name actually appears in the Vivilore book), Susan B. Anthony, Frida Kahlo, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Judy Chicago, Patti Smith, the Guerrilla Girls, and Anita Hill.

(Above: Vivilore 2011, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

The pages from the Vivilore book were mounted to fabric. This allowed me to stitch on them and attach hooks-and-eyes for a laced connection that resembles a corset. I cut images and subtitles from the 1904 volume and even used the end pages to create the cartoon-like bubbles for quotations.

(Above: Vivilore 2011, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

The clipped letters at the top are a definition of feminism. The clipped letters at the bottom define the 19th amendment, THE RIGHT TO VOTE ... which wasn't finally ratified until August 18, 1920 ... sixteen years after Vivilore was originally published. (Of course, I live in South Carolina, a state that rejected the 19th amendment on Jan. 28, 1920 and didn't ratify it until July 1m 1969 ... but still didn't certify it until August 22, 1973.)

The 1904 Vivilore was actually quite progressive in its day. One hundred and seven years later, much has changed ... but there's still a long way to go before there's equality for women.


Elizabeth said...

What an incredible find!! I love how you have recreated the book and the corset format is fabulous!!!Now I am off to take a closer look!!!

EmandaJ said...

This is FANTASTIC! Thanks for sharing.


Lynn Cohen said...

Susan this is hysterical. I Love that the male drawing does NOT have a penis! God forbid!
I wish I could read more of the original but what I can see is so funny. I LOVE the hooks and eyes!
You are so so so clever and creative and have a wonderful sense of humor. This is a gem to be shown to many! What fun~!!!!

lynda Howells said...

Love this...great fun and a wonderful sense of humour there womanxxxx sorry been away from laptop for a while..so have not been leving comments but back now!xxhope all is well with you and your familyxxlynda

Wanda said...

Wow...okay, did you take a book and make a book? Really neat stuff. The women of Austria would really like this as well. They are still fighting for hundreds of euro differences on the man vs. woman pay scale. As are many countries.