PhotoHunter: Words

Back around 2004, I saw a documentary about tattoos and tattooing. One of the people they interviewed was an artist, Shelley Jackson, who was writing a book… on people….

Her idea was to write a book and then have the words in the book tattooed on people. The only public representation of the book would be the “words”– the people on which the words were written. The book was to be titled “SKIN“.

I was fascinated by this idea and wrote to Shelley. I received an answer and an invitation to submit an official “resume”, a letter outlining why I wanted to participate and a brief bio. I did and then received a confirmation that I was to be a word in the book.!

Almost two years elapsed from the day I sent in my request to the day I received by word. It was only 3 days later that I “became” “preserve”…

preserve

preserve

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me as the word

me as the word

The word was very carefully chosen by Shelley. In ny “resume” I talked about my work in history research involving Indian Residential Schools; my interest in genaeology; the fact that in many ways, my past had been hidden from me by the actions of my birth father in preventing contact between me and my siblings; and other things which revolved around the idea of “preserving”. I had no idea, nor did Shelley, of what word she was going to give my until Shelley settled on the word “preserve” for me. I was lucky. Many more people would be assigned the words “and”, “to”, and “the”. Interestingly, many of those “words” felt a sense of appropriateness for the word chosen.

Once my word had been received from Shelly, I was to have it tattooed, in black, in a book font (no “fancy” script or lettering… no embellishment, no decoration), and uncapitalized unless the word was the fist word in the sentence. Evidence of the tattoo had to be submitted and the requirements were that there had to be a close-up image which showed that it was a tattoo not simply drawn on, a photo of the “word (the person who is the word, not the word itself, without the word being visible unless it was unavoidable), and the date on which the person became the “word”.

the evidence

the evidence

I would later (more than a year later, receive the only traditionally printed version of the story, a privately printed presentation copy for each participant. This book is only permitted to be read by the participants and the author and the only way anyone not involved in the project would be able to read the book would be if all the participants gathered and were grouped together and read in sequence. With almost 3000 words spread around the globe, no easy task….

PhotoHunter: Book(s)

This week’s PhotoHunter theme is Book(s).

Now, for someone who, when we moved back from New York City, she and her husband between them had something 31 boxes of books, mostly antiquarian (He on Arctic exploration and First Nations history; and she almost exclusively ladies travel of the 18th and 19th century) you would think would have a lot of subjects to choose from.

My first date with my former husband was to the antiquarian book fair in town. When the movers came into the apartment when we were moving back from New York City, one of them took one look at the boxes of books and said “Oh, My GOD! You aren’t that couple who moved down here a a couple of years ago from Ottawa, are you???” Apparently, we were legendary with movers for the number of boxes of books we had. AND we had both sold a lot of books before we moved down to the US and again before we moved back, just to lighten the load!

Unfortunately, most of my books are still in boxes after my husband and I parted company and I have no room to adequately house them. I have my prized ladies travel books (and some by men) in one book case which gathers dust as I can’t properly access it. However, I did my best and got a few slightly wobbly photos of part of that collection.

My favourites? “The Works of the Right Honourable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu‘” (5 vols. 1817),  “Voyage of the Sunbeam” (2 editions, 1879), “A Ride on Horseback Through Florence, France and Switzerland described in a series of letters by A Lady” (2 vols., 1842), and “The Diary of an Invalid: Being the Journal of a Tour in Pursuit of Health in Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, and France in the Years 1817, 1818, and 1819″, by Henry Matthews (2 vols. 1822 ed.). They had long titles in those days!

Some of my books

Some of my books

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Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

A Voyage in the 'Sunbeam'

A Voyage in the 'Sunbeam'

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