Tomorrow night we’re officially launching our first title, Black and/or White by Auckland artist Mary-Louise Browne. This book is a new iteration of a text work first made in 1982, as a student at Elam School of Fine Arts.
Known now for her large word sculptures, by 1982 Mary-Louise had already begun a text practice. In her hands words become slippery and mutable, undermining our expectations of narrative resolution.
Black and/or White contains 17 individual stories, each one offering three or four possible endings. The stories weave across each other, at times contradicting and negating each other. They are hilarious and yet also confronting. When I first read them I assumed they were fiction, but many of the artworks described are real. Reading them now, I think about feminism at the height of postmodernism, with authorship itself under threat.
Black and/or White was presented as a loose leaf boxed set – a book without a spine. It was printed at Elam on a letterpress printer, handset in Univers medium type. Mary-Louise printed it with the help of legendary Elam print technician Robin Lush, whose role in the practice of art books is talked about here in a lovely blog post by the Elam Library.
Our 2016 version is digitally printed, carefully reproduced from the original. We have taken great care to ensure that it’s a faithful copy, while wanting to acknowledge its difference from the original.
Like Mary-Louise’s first version, this iteration has been handmade, apart from the one stage of the process we can’t yet produce in-house. Instead, I took it down to Bill at Perry Print for binding.
To get your hands on a copy of the book please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Black and/or White retails for $30 (plus postage), and is a limited edition of 100.
Emma Bugden, Editor