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Julie Maas

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 9 months ago

JULIE MAAS ALPHABET

28 pages. 26 colour inkjet prints. First edition, 2007. 5.5” x 7” printed and hand-stitched in house at Gerald and Maas, editions/atelier. 206 Saint Patrick Street, Ottawa, Canada, K1N 5K3. Soft-cover $30. Electronic edition, $7. www.nightslantern.ca.

 

 

Artist Julie Maas has redefined Body Language. In her typography, nude human bodies bend and curve themselves into the letters of the western alphabet. The resulting twenty-six colour inkjet prints are based on two hand-coloured etchings, “alphabet a-l” and “alphabet m-z”, first issued in 1983.

 

Although Mass calls Alphabet politically incorrect and definitely not a children’s book, she shocks us gently, mischievously, even wistfully. The human figures express themselves as voluntary letters, giving no appearance of contortion or discomfort. Most are serene, although K looks about to spring, and X is either fearful or defensive, perhaps merely private. But if K or X sense a threat, it is clear they intend to remain in charge.

 

A muses. E curves and re-curves her limbs. I kneels and T stands with hands behind their backs, unprotected and vulnerable, not afraid or submissive but honestly naked and female, modestly sans-serif. K crouches, aggressive chin between aggressive breast. Q’s hair puns into a queue. R, hand on hip, steps deliberately forward.

 

U waves as if from a swimming-pool, but definitely not drowning. V dives victorious as a Valkyrie.

 

Only one letter, D, is male, distinguishable by an obvious gender-specific attribute – his moustache. His finger-tips do not quite meet at the upper corner, relating to the preceding letter whose hands, necessarily open, seem to want to close and make C into circle.

Z kneels with hair blown forward, body slanted back , prepared to cool her heels, or to spring to her toes. Whichever direction she takes, she leaves us an alphabet in action.

 

But all these words are mine. The only words in Alphabet are the title, author’s name, and the publication data. Julie Mass’s letters do not “stand for” any thing . Human bodies, letters of the alphabet – what are we to make of them?

(Review by Phyllis Reeve)

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