CUBA, 2006, (Brad Freeman & Johanna Drucker) JAB Books; images, design, printing and binding by Brad Freeman, text by Johanna Drucker; edition size 20 signed and numbered; inkjet printed on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Duo and Warahan-shi Japanese paper; foil stamped clamshell box 12.25” x 9.25” x 2”) containing two books - CUBA (11” x 17” open; 36 pages) and Torre de Letras y Musica (5” x 8” open; 64 pages); both books are casebound. ($2250)
In 2003 the authors were invited on an officially sanctioned trip to Cuba to share their work with poets and writers at UNEAC (The Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba). The experience was intense and profound. Both were struck by the contrasts between the perspective of themselves as liberal artists engaged in a form of intellectual tourism-- visiting the last communist hold-out, the implacable “enemy” Cuba. Freeman made digital collages of the photographs he took in Cuba, combining cuts and images from a facsimile type sample book originally printed in Havana in 1836. The juxtapositions conflate the temporal dimensions of colonial and post-colonial eras in the graphic space of the pages. Richly textured and as fraught with contradictions as the experience itself, CUBA is a complex account of two artists’ encounter with a culture in which the avant-garde remains one of the peculiar vestiges of a time-warp past struggling, like so much of the island nation, to anticipate its future.
Drucker’s telegraphic reportage embodies a quality of spontaneous response, description, and analysis with the abrupt energy of a text produced at high speed, without pausing. Very different in tone from the abstractions of her visual poetry, or the humor and cleverness of other books by her, the text is a rapid-fire account of an encounter with the strange intensity of Cuban culture.
Torre de Letras y Musica contains the poem “time’s arrest” (“la detención del tiempo) by Reina Maria Rodriguez one of the “unofficial” Cuban poets the artists met while in Cuba.