Skirt book

Gold folio for the competition exhibition of artists books 2012 at Albi

A correspondence of 22 years (1988 – 2010) is the starting point for this ‘Skirt-book’.
The letters chart a journey of acceptance and transformation – what was initially experienced as an impasse, a one sided and un-reciprocated love, a relationship with no future, becoming with the passing of time a mutually treasured friendship.
It is only on the paper that I myself make that the words of this journey could live again; paper in which my local plants are transformed into fibres through the alchemy of cooking.
My body, my hands, my ‘craftsmanship’ ( that ‘savoir-faire’ developed over a lifetime and passed down through the ages) are all mobilised in the harvesting of the plants and the different stages of the paper production, and this contributes to the paper becoming representative of my skin.
Thus obtained this ‘skin’ is fit to receive the words telling of my emergence into this relationship in particular, and into relating in general.
I wanted that this object would be worn, worn by a woman. Just as a woman wears a garment, choosing it to go with her mood, I wanted this object to be in tune with the mood of this relationship and its correspondence in which I become more and more stripped down, closer and closer to my essence, more and more intimate.
I also wanted the text to be legible, that it could be read by turning the pages.
I therefore designed a skirt with many panels, like an accordion, each panel becoming a page of the correspondence. The pages are trapeziums, 6cm by 45cm by 32cm, sewn together with red thread. Their top edges are joined together by a cord which, when you open the skirt, forms the belt (in the image of Degas’ young dancer).
I made the paper used for these pages from pounded fibres, using a Japanese method giving a paper of great finesse, whole fibres, ‘leaf – lace’ (this is the very delicate and beautiful structure of the leaf that is left behind once the ‘flesh’ of the leaf has been removed), and fibres dyed red with madder.
Traces of invented calligraphy and imprints of old lace, fragile, diaphanous, and delicate are visible in the pages.
They form the skirt, they are the veil, at once protective and seductive, of a body that revisits the innocence of the adolescent girl – desirable, liking to be looked at, yet untouchable.
The text is printed to fit the format of the pages in a highly legible font. Certain pages are scanned as they have drawings or signs that give a visual way of connecting with the writing.
There are 28 pages. The cover page has the title “ Traverses Intentionelles” (Journeys with Intent).

Aïdée Bernard 2012