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Re: Cuban Bookbinders

>Our gift of supplies was a huge success.  On our  second day
>there we went to the small city of Matanzas where I knew there were some
>book artists.  We arrived at their "studio" which is located in this
>grand old colonial building.
-- Why is it a "studio" and not just a studio, no quotation marks?

>They print on single sheets then staple them together.  On top
>of this they glue paper covers.  On the covers they glue on string,
>beads, paper cut-outs, anything they have to create a scene.  Very folk
>arty, very charming and well designed.
--  That is where the term folk arts got its definition; from indignous
and/or nonmodernized traditions; of course it was 'folkarty'.
>They were so grateful for the materials we sent their way.  You
>and I had put book cloths in their hands.
-- I understand that these people were genuinely grateful for the materials
you brought them; however, it is sort of insulting and patriarchal to
phrase it as such.  They are peers, not small animals.  I apologize at my
glibness, but your story of this exchange sounds so very much like early
American colonial writings, of a hierarchal assignation of aesthetic
creation is completely debatable on a philosophical level; also, it is
bizarre to assume such pride to giftgiving.

since they don't use cloth
>covers I said, "maybe this isn't of use to you."  They strongly
>contradicted me-- GOOD.

 and said they will use it to construct their multimedia
>covers.  They knew what they were doing for what they did.

-- WHat do you mean by this statement?  It sounds like their artwork is
rather developed styliscally.

 I had also
>included half a dozen bone folders.  They had never seen them before.  I
>showed them how they can be used and they were so thrilled by the
>possibilities.  They wanted your address (which I gave them) to thank you
>so I would expect you will hear from them some day.  They were VERY
>impressed that it came all the way from Alaska.  When I say, that you'll
>hear someday, I am taking into account that the mails are notoriously bad
-- So aren't we lucky to have such developed sociological technology.

>It certainly gives one pause to realise how much these people are
>doing with so little.  I may have to stop complaining about my
>"isolation" for a day or two!

-- Definitely.

I apologize for baiting you, but it is exactly this sort of patronization
which imposes cultural hierarchies and leads to miscommunication and
idolization of Western forms of creation.  Don't be so surprised to find
that other cultures have developed forms of creation which are 'folkarty'.
It is these assumptions which are not necessarily dangerous, but are just
simply difficult to justify on a philosophical level.  I also fully
understand the potential excessive annoying-ness and beating over the head
of excessive semiotic, or multicultural/theoretical, aesthetic discussions,
but at the root is an extremely important idea -- that the term diversity
implies a sharing of aesthetics without any moral/judgmental hierarchies
imposed on the part of those who hold the presumed power.  In this case,
power refers to you, who possess so much/such developed technology and
access to materials, ideas and traditions.

--Madeleine Fix>

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