The flag book structure has become a reoccurring model in Karen Hanmer’s work. She has quite an eye for transforming flat imagery into interesting movable objects. Bluestem was created in 2006 in a small edition of 25, the work is inspired by Willa Cather’s My Antonia and includes a quote printed on the rear panel.
The grass imagery is inkjet printed on polyester film and bound on either side of the panels creating a double-sided variation on the flag book structure. As you open and close this book a nice rustle is created by the movement of the pages. It’s quite simple and beautiful.
Inspired by the work of Hedi Kyle, you have, on several pieces used the flag book structure. How does this structure best represent your concept?
Women and Cars by Susan King was among the first artists’ books I saw, and it has remained an inspiration. King’s use of the flag book structure gave me a model for everything I wanted to accomplish when making a non-codex book. It pairs multiple narratives with photographs, can be held in the hand and read like a traditional codex, opens fully enough to look commanding and compelling on exhibit, and gives viewers enough to enjoy that they will not focus on the book being printed digitally if that is an issue for them.
The Bonefolder chose flag books as the theme for our 2008 online Bind-O-Rama exhibit. Although my previously editioned flag books were quite elaborate with multiple texts and imagery on inside and outside of the spine and boards, Bluestem appeals to my minimalist side. There’s almost nothing there: just a few words of text from Willa Cather’s My Antonia on the rear board and lines representing grass printed on clear polyester film and paper, yet the piece also effectively represents the boundlessness of the prairie.
Created in 2003, Destination Moon, is another simple flag book structure that involves a complex layering of material related to the moon. Archival images pertaining to the Apollo Manned Space Program are on the reverse of John F. Kennedy’s “Man on the Moon” speech in addition to the song lyrics for Roy Alfred and Marvin Fisher’s Destination Moon, about a romantic journey to the moon.
But when the book is fully opened, all the viewer sees is an image of the space shuttle on its way toward the moon.
Besides the flag book, Karen has played around in a variety of movable and folded structures. In her work Celestial Navigation, the triangular pages can be held in the hand and read like a traditional book or unfolded to reveal star charts. The structure is quite playful and can be folded into fantastic sculpted shapes.
In Pride Prejudice Passion: Tunnel of Love, Karen appropriately uses the tunnel book structure. This works combines text from the classic romance novel by Jane Austen with images cut from covers of the modern romance novel. As the term suggests, the content can be viewed through the length of the structure, similar to peering down a tunnel.