A poet-artist collaboration
Johanna Drucker is the Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA. She is internationally known for her work in artists’ books, the history of graphic design, typography, experimental poetry, fine art, and digital humanities. Recent titles include: Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production (Harvard University Press, 2014), The General Theory of Social Relativity (The Elephants, 2018), Downdrift: An Eco-fiction (Three Rooms Press, 2018), and Visualization: Modelling Interpretation (forthcoming). In 2014 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and awarded an honorary doctorate of Fine Arts by the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2017.
Susan Bee is an artist living in Brooklyn. She is represented by A.I.R. Gallery in NYC, where she has had nine solo shows. She has had solo shows at many other venues and her work has been included in numerous group shows. Bee has published sixteen artist’s books. She has collaborated with: Susan Howe, Charles Bernstein, Johanna Drucker, Regis Bonvicino, Jerome McGann, Rachel Levitsky, and Jerome Rothenberg. Bee was the co-editor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G from 1986-2016. Her artist’s book archive and the M/E/A/N/I/N/G archive are at the Beinecke Library, Yale University.
Bee’s artwork and artist’s books are in many public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Reed College, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Getty Museum, and Victoria & Albert Museum. Her work has been reviewed in: Art in America, The New York Times, The New Yorker, ArtNews, The Brooklyn Rail, Artcritical, The Forward, Huffington Post, and Hyperallergic. She has a BA from Barnard College and a MA in Art from Hunter College. She won a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts in 2014.
Some day, one imagines, Susan Bee and Johanna Drucker will themselves appear as featured figures in a book like this one. For now, their revised martyrology presents a catalogue of some two-dozen new saints whose colorful lives appear in equally colorful spreads of condensed shaped text and eccentrically dispersed images. With their networked fields of iconic, schematic semiotics, these collaborations are fables of historiography itself. The result, predictably, is fabulous.
An homage to 25 legendary women through the centuries—from Susan B. Anthony to Susan Sontag, from Lizzie Borden to Lucille Ball—Fabulas Feminae is also a necessary intervention. When a famous life is over, the wild biography is often shaped to fit a tame narrative structure; Drucker and Bee use collage and algorithmic language processing to disrupt that pattern and make these lives wild again.
This book is a wonderful mixture of the scholarly, the feminist, the playful, and the girlish about fabulous women from his_(her)_story—queens, notorious assassins, novelists, sharp-shooters, divas, vanguard painters, suffragettes, comedic redheads, eccentric poets, visionary nuns, songstresses, saviors of their people by two fabulous feminists artists and fabulists Susan Bee and Johanna Drucker. It will appeal to and inspire readers of all ages. Bee’s rich, sprightly, dense collages and Drucker’s sculptural text design are as interesting as art as the algorithmically dissociated but completely comprehensible and thrilling text.