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The Humming State of Not-Quite-This-and-Not-Quite-That

Earlier this summer, Siglio published a collection of image+text work by women artists and writers entitled It Is Almost That. It includes twenty-six works—reproduced in their entirety or as substantial excerpts—by artists and writers whose work transcends typical categories and genres. A list of contributors is below the images, and you can find more information about the book here as well as current reviews here.

Over the next few months, I’ll be posting special features on It Is Almost That artists and writers, including exclusive interviews, resource hubs of information, as well as small portfolios of works (both published and unpublished). This entry is the first introduction to the book and includes an excerpt from my afterword as well as a portfolio of single images from select artists and writers in It Is Almost That.
—Lisa Pearson, editor

Excerpt from the afterword:
IT IS ALMOST THAT: A Collection of Image+Text Work by Women Artists & Writers

It is almost that evokes the humming state of the not-quite-this-and-not-quite-that. What is it? Almost that. The word almost seems key to the not-quite, suggesting it is left wanting. But what is it? Almost that. That is where the smallness resides: it is a thing that accepted categories cannot contain, familiar taxonomies cannot order, one medium cannot express, a single language cannot circumscribe; something, in other words, that can never be just that—fully one thing or another, wholly belonging here or there. Rather, it is something mutable, indeterminate, ineffable. And the phrase it is almost that, in its indeterminacy, signals the many things something may or may not be—and may or may not become—simultaneously. It is almost that points to the inverse of lack—to boundlessness.

It is almost that is a phrase from Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s eponymous work included in this collection. She uses it to set a syntactical inquiry into motion in which relationships are constantly shifting and small white letters momentarily hold inscrutable fields of black. I use it as if to chart a constellation, selecting a discrete number of stars from the infinite field of the night sky, connecting them in unpredictable ways, in order to see something that might not otherwise be seen. It is almost that titles this collection not only to invoke the resistance to categorization and accepted order, but also to acknowledge the expanse, the limitless possibility of what one might still see: look at the sky again and, by force of imagination and concentration, another constellation emerges.

In their unique use of image and text, in their own expansion of the given conventions and paradigms, each individual work included in this collection lives in the visual and in the literary but also beyond them. These are works that are often relegated to a single world—art or literature—and thus they are “read” in that particular way within that particular context by that particular audience. In the contraction to that, they are partly (almost) visible to one world, often entirely invisible to another. There are differences between seeing a work of art and reading it, between reading a literary work and seeing its visual presence within the space of the page. These are works that are truly hybrid, in which language and image are inextricable and thus must be seen and read—not two separate acts but multiple ones.

Read the entirety of the essay here.
All rights reserved. Text © 2011 Lisa Pearson and Siglio Press. All images below © the artists.

FROM “TRIXIE, THE CONNOISSEUR” (1975-1978) BY DOROTHY IANNONE

FROM “THE NAM” (1997) BY FIONA BANNER

FROM “A HOUSE OF DUST” (1968) BY ALISON KNOWLES

FROM “A FLOATING WEFT / WOVEN” (2010) BY ANN HAMILTON

FROM “IT IS ALMOST THAT” (1977) BY THERESA HAK KYUNG CHA

FROM “DOMESTIC PEACE” (1971-1972) BY ELEANOR ANTIN

IT IS ALMOST THAT includes work by:
Eleanor Antin
Bambanani Women’s Group
Fiona Banner
Louise Bourgeois
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
Cozette de Charmoy
Ann Hamilton
Jane Hammond
Susan Hiller
Dorothy Iannone
Bhanu Kapil & Rohini Kapil
Helen Kim
Alison Knowles
Ketty La Rocca
Bernadette Mayer
Adrian Piper
Charlotte Salomon
Geneviève Seillé
Molly Springfield
Cole Swensen & Shari DeGraw
Suzanne Treister
Erica Van Horn & Laurie Clark
Carrie Mae Weems
Hannah Weiner
Sue Williams
Unica Zürn

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