Welcome to Siglio’s resource for the work of women artists and writers.
Despite impressive advancements and the hard work of many, female artists remain at the margins of mainstream art and literary culture. The reasons for this are varied and complex but are perhaps compounded by the boundary-defiant, subversive and ambiguous nature of female artists’ work which the conventional arts establishment may find difficult to understand, categorize and, thus, commodify.
As a part of our mission to publish the unwieldy and uncategorizable, Siglio is committed to publishing work by women. Advocating for female authors and writers, Siglio takes seriously its responsibility to rectify the under-representation of women in the broader publishing landscape. While not all of Siglio’s female authors and artists identify as “feminist,” their work—mutable, indeterminate, and ineffable—in various ways subverts the dominant structure, upends expectations in an undeniably feminist fashion. You can read about Siglio’s perspective on the publishing climate for women authors in an interview with founder and editor Lisa Pearson at VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts.
We have created this page as an alternative resource that directs readers to important and perhaps overlooked female artists, offers critical materials, and opens up connections between Siglio and the larger feminist community. You’ll find a variety of resources, such as interviews, biographies, primary documents, book excerpts, essays and blog entries, organized below by book title. (You can also find posts to our Affinities blog by clicking on the category “Women Artists & Hybrid Forms” at above and at right.)
The inspiration (and the desolation) of the female artist is vibrantly there. Because the frame is image+text, we’re reminded that all of us generally do more. Female artists don’t just stay in their disciplines; we experience, we forage, we play.
–Eileen Myles at the Poetry Foundation
It Is Almost That: A Collection of Image+Text Work by Women Artists and Writers, which presents twenty-six hybrid works by women, is a cornerstone of Siglio’s mission to publishing the work of women. A collection rather than an anthology, It Is Almost That collects and arranges a diverse range image+text work that evades categorization and invites multiple modes of reading.
At almost 300 pages, this collection is fully devoted to work by women. This is not a gesture of segregation but rather, as Lisa Pearson describes in her Editor’s Afterword, an attempt to reclaim real estate for women in the larger field of the arts. As Nancy Princenthal describes, “the absence of men feels […] unforced; these are, simply, the kinds of discussions women have among themselves.”
These multivalent works are authored by an equally multitudinous group of female authors, including landmark figures like Louise Bourgeois and Nancy Spero as well as lesser known artists like Charlotte Salomon and Unica Zürn, for whom we have provided extended biographies as so little is available on their works and lives. Read the biographies of all 26 authors and artists and find links to primary sources to further explore their lives and work.
Dorothy Iannone, who has been working on her transgressive and exuberant image+text work since the 1960’s, is only now gaining widespread recognition in the art world (currently showing at Air de Paris). Like her feminist contemporaries, Iannone also explores themes such as sexual liberation, self-realization, desire, domination and submission, the relationship of the artist and muse, but in a way that is uniquely her own. Engaged in an early exploration of gender fluidity, Iannone’s life mission of self-realization through relationships resists second wave feminism’s particular liberation narrative. As Lisa Pearson’s writes in her Editor’s Note to You Who Read Me With Passion Now Must Forever Be My Friends: “Iannone disobeys every authority (except those she gleefully submits to), redefines her place in the world by creating an ever-expanding field of possibilities in that world—possibilities that arise as she turns everything inside out.”
Critical essays include Trinie Dalton’s “Culminations” from You Who Read Me With Passion as well as two essays on Iannone’s 2014 exhibition at Berlinische Galerie. More about Iannone’s life can found in an extended biography by Lisa Pearson. Also view a constellation charting empowerment and surrender in the work of Iannone and others on Siglio’s blog.
A major pioneer of feminist art, Nancy Spero has inspired generations of female artists. Her work Torture of Women is a 125-foot collage that draws from mythology, reportage, first-hand accounts, and Spero’s own ingenuity in documenting women’s torture and pain across history. An innovative and polyphonous narrative, feminist disquisition, and register of political protest and outrage, Torture of Women is an extraordinary work of art. Siglio’s translation of this large scale piece to book form offers a site of intimate engagement with a work that is rarely exhibited. It also includes “Fourteen Meditations On the Torture of Women,” an essay by Diana Nemiroff that examines the work panel by panel.
Other resources include: an extended biography of Spero, Catherine de Zegher’s essay from Spero’s 2013 exhibition at Galerie Lelong, a piece on Spero’s representation of torture by the former executive director of Amnesty International, William F. Schulz, and a tribute by artist and friend Kiki Smith.
Bough Down is a beautiful anomaly in itself. It is many things: art book, collage, lyric, prose poetry and ultimately, a dizzying and wondrous incantation of grief. . . . The work enthralls because it exposes artistic creation as an act of necessity, this feat of laying it all down.
-J. Mae Borizo at Hyperallergic
Siglio’s commitment to women artists extends beyond simply publishing their work to an ethical consideration of how a work is published, marketed and accessed by its readership. In the case of Karen Green and her elegiac work Bough Down, while the media coverage inevitably skewed to Green’s famous husband, we did our best to present the work in its own terms. Suzanne Scanlon’s insightful review addresses this head on, discussing how Bough Down is both subject to and resistant of a cultural imperative that subsumes the work of women to that of their male peers (or in this case partner). You can also view an excerpt of the book at Bomb Magazine.
Danielle Dutton, a writer with singular vision, blends memoir, poetry, archival material and photography in her truly uncategorizable book S P R A W L. Dutton is the author of Attempts at a Life and editor of Dorothy, a publishing project a press “dedicated to works of fiction or near fiction or about fiction, mostly by women.” Learn more about Dutton’s publishing philosophy in an interview with VIDA, and more about S P R A W L in a review by Kate Zambreno. You can also hear Dutton reading an excerpt of S P R A W L on the Bomb Magazine podcast.
Sophie Calle: The Address Book and Suite Vénitienne
Sophie Calle is an internationally renowned artist whose controversial works often fuse conceptual art and Oulipian-like constraints, investigatory methods and fictional constructs, the plundering of autobiography and the artful composition of self. Using a range of media—photography, film, writing, performance, installation—Calle explores the tensions between the observed, the reported, the secret, and the unsaid; desire and voyeurism are often agents to expose the multiplicity of truth as well as its absence. Listen to a recent interview with Sophie Calle by Eleanor Wachtel, view an excerpt of Siglio’s The Address Book in The New Yorker and read a blog post that follows Calle’s vacillation between nearness and distance in Suite Vénitienne through the appropriated texts of diverse thinkers.
Amaranth Borsuk work spans translation, performance, book arts, and electronic literature often asking the question (as she does in her collaboration with Brad Bouse, Between Page and Screen), “What are boundaries anyway?” She is a writer and artist whose practice is often collaborative working with authors including Kate Durbin, Gabriela Jauregui, and Andy Fitch. Other works include her most recent title As We Know, in collaboration with Andy Fitch (Subito Press, 2014), as well as Handiwork, selected by Paul Hoover for the 2011 Slope Editions Poetry Prize (Slope Editions, 2012); Tonal Saw (The Song Cave, 2010); and Abra, a collaboration with Kate Durbin, is forthcoming.
Organized and written by Googie Karrass.