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The Book is a Body that Bends

June 6, 2018 to June 30, 2018


Like much of our past work, the images and objects in this exhibition reflect our affinity for and preoccupation with books. Photographic color fields of the dyed edges of pulp paperbacks; drawings of broken spines, stains, and warped paper; and sculptural tomes like weapons or weights; these works explore the book as a physical object and as metaphor for the body.

Many of these pieces were made in parallel to a process of studying trauma and trying to understand the mysterious ways the body holds a history (visible or invisible) of past injury. Many of the books in this exhibition have suffered damage either from the market or from use, from time, water, or air. Some got their wounds during a house fire we had 10 years ago; others were left out in the rain. Some were cheap purchases that were returned or re-sold again and again.

Both hard-edged and soft, open and bound, ghostly and bodied our bookworks remind us of the vulnerabilities and protections we accrue and construct as we move through the world. Making them, we called on both research about the instinctual tools humans use to survive traumatic experiences (like dissociation or aggression), and the history of the codex (where dyes, metal leaf and marbling were used to arm books from accumulating destructive mildew and molds on their exposed edges).

Books ask for readers; they (usually) require literacy. Healing and moving through past suffering also necessitate a certain kind of literacy and sociality. It’s been proven that when we re-tell our traumas as part of our stories, that’s when we begin to heal. So, as a part of the show, we’ve invited 3 guest artists: Emily Squires, Ariana Jacob, and Rachel Hines to co-host a series of Saturday morning reading discussions in the gallery throughout the month of June. Discussions will be centered around reading material that addresses topics relevant to the show and will take place from 11:30am-1pm June 9th, 16th, and 23rd.

All discussions will take place at PDX CONTEMPORARY ART
925 NW Flanders
Portland, OR 97209

Keep the Rage Tender with Emily Squires
Saturday, June 9th

Centered on the question: Is rage healthy? this discussion will explore the relationship between rage, health, and daily life and is informed by the book of poems titled Salt by Nayyirah Waheed and the work of the art collective What Would an HIV Doula Do?.

Emily Squires is an artist and educator, currently serving as the Education & Engagement Specialist at the Sexual & Gender Minority Resource Center (SMYRC) in Portland, OR. Her multidisciplinary and collaborative art practice and political work investigates themes such as voice, participation, belonging, and love.

Embodiment After Trauma with Rachel Hines
Saturday, June 16th

Rachel Hines will lead a discussion starting from the question "How do we receive care after trauma?". The discussion will be informed by her own personal research and book, Self Care Manual, as well as by an episode of the podcast On Being that she found pivotal in her own recovery: How Trauma Lodges in the Body with psychiatrist and author Bessel van der Kolk.

Listen to the interview with Bessel van der Kolk here

Rachel Hines is a feminist artist and educator based in Portland. Her work explores the relationships between the inner Self, the exterior body, and the separate other. She currently teaches art at Portland State University and yoga at Root Whole Body.

We don’t need full time jobs to be full people with Ariana Jacob
Saturday, June 23rd

How does unstable work impact your health, emotional life and sense of belonging? So many of us now basically depend on the gig economy, piecing together part-time, temporary jobs to get by. As our work lives become precarious how do we learn to live in ways that don’t perpetuate personally insecurity but instead provide new ways of belonging together?

Let’s try getting grounded in who we are to ourselves and to each other in this world that's moving towards not needing most of us in its work force. Among other texts and ideas, this discussion is informed by James Bogg's text The Outsiders from The American Revolution: Pages From a Negro Worker's Notebook, Chapter 4.

Ariana Jacob makes artwork that uses conversation to explore political and personal interdependence and disconnection. Prior to working as an artist and academic Ariana managed a farmers’ market, worked in a cabinet shop, co-ran a secret cafe out of her apartment, and fished for salmon commercially. While being an artist and academic Ariana also does union organizing and group facilitation, alongside being a partner, friend, family member and wonderer. Ariana currently teaches in the Social Practice MFA Program at Portland State University and is the Chair of Bargaining for PSUFA Adjunct Faculty Union.