Moon Viewing: Megaliths by Moonlight
Knot Nots: A Fairytale
Knot Nots: A Fairytale is a poetic fable by Amy Hufnagel, inspired by Barbara Yoshida's four linked photogravures.The heroine, "an elderly child," is on a post-modern feminist quest. In classic fashion she is lost in the woods, or, in this case, "in an almost non-existent forest at the edge of a megalopolis." Confused by the chaos of the information age, she encounters and receives rather Alice-in-Wonderland-style "guidance" from a vulva-shaped knothole in a tree, a plastic Barbie, a talking pighead, an "animal woman" in a rabbit mask, and a snake. These echoes of ancient sacred mythologies deliver their wisdom in a down-to-earth style full of sly art world references (Annie Sprinkle, Janine Antoni), and puns ("Hello, I'm looking for the Beuys room?"). The contemporary contradictions our modern heroine faces are not so much resolved as transcended by the sheer loveliness of the presentation.
It is difficult in a short review to convey the beauty of this collaboration of three talented artists. Of the four exquisite, somewhat surreal photographs, three are staged using props, two with a nude model. They subtly change color, becoming more fleshly pink as the text progresses and the questing woman evolves to be more integrated in her artistic, philosophical and sensual outlook. The prints have a dreamy archaic quality in spite of their twenty-first century subject matter: their small size, their look of hand-coloring and the somewhat Victorian medium of the photogravure, give a romantic cast to images that have a contemporary explicitness. The lines of the text, on facing pages, occasionally break out of their normal margins rather dramatically, echoing the restlessness of our heroine's thoughts as she strives to expand beyond her own accustomed borders. The attention to design detail extends to the portfolio cover which suggests tree bark, one of the book's visual themes.
This collaboration by three fine artists is a serious yet playful response to the many problems and contradictions troubling contemporary women, particularly women artists who must function on so many different levels at once. It is certainly a political, feminist work, yet makes its statements through beauty, poetry and humor. It deserves to become a treasured collector's item.
Review by Diane Miller