Queen for a Day is Deborah-Joyce Holman’s debut publication, staging a conversation between two of the artist’s films, Moment and Moment 2 (2022), and the work of cinema verité they take as a primary material: Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason (1967). One ‘queen’ of this title is Jason Holliday, the Black gay male subject at the centre of Clarke’s film with whom Holman wants to act in solidarity. Finding Jason captured by the extractive gaze and exhausting line of questioning of a white female director, Holman works to reproduce his words, rather than his image, placing them as looping samples of script in the mouths of two performers, Imani Mason Jordan (Moment) and Rebecca Bellantoni (Moment and Moment 2). The loop is intended to be liberatory, a way of paying homage to Jason’s utterances via repetition, and to render them abstract and opaque, allowing the new script – included in this book as a series of textual interludes – to function as camouflage.
The publication contains extensive representation of Moment and Moment 2 as still images, added to which are installation views of the films’ presentation at the ICA, London, schwarzescafé, Luma Westbau, Zürich, and Cordova, Barcelona. Following this a conversation between Deborah-Joyce Holman and Cédric Fauq elaborates on Holman’s method, and suggests that there are parallels to be drawn between the cycle of oppression in which Jason is trapped by Clarke, and the way in which the contemporary circulation of images of Black people suffering triggers a retraumatising process of spectacularisation. Newly commissioned essays by Olamiju Fajemisin, Noémi Michel, and Francis Whorrall-Campbell, offer close analysis of Moment and Moment 2, opening up diverse ways of understanding Holman’s aesthetic strategies and politics of representation via film history, decolonial and queer theory.
Deborah-Joyce Holman is an artist based between London and Basel. Their work has recently been shown at Performing Arts Forum, Saint-Emre (2023), Espacio de Arte Contemporáneo, Castellón (2023), and Galerie Gregor Staiger, Zurich (2023), among others. They were Associate Director at Auto Italia, London (2020–22), and Founding Director of 1.1, a platform for multidisciplinary early-career practitioners with an exhibition space in Basel, Switzerland (2015–20).
Last chance for the July Book of the Month: The Unspeakable Freedom Device (2015)
Our book of the month, with 30% off until the end of July, is The Unspeakable Freedom Device by Jennet Thomas (2015).
‘This is your new device. The purpose of this device has been re-defined, but this was gradual, so you did not notice. This device likes you. It excites with simplicity, it cuts, lifts and separates, then hollows out the centre, making ready for the enrichment mechanisms to enter…’ – Jennet Thomas, from the Prologue
Margaret Thatcher is the spectral protagonist in this dystopian folkloric work; she exists as an all-pervasive image burnt onto the collective memory of a culture that is sinister and psychedelic, ‘savage’ and ritualistic. The characters are released, and we follow two impoverished pilgrims, Glenda and Mary, through a red, green and blue broken landscape. Signs have collapsed and meaning has imploded: Mary needs to find a cure for her baby; Glenda wants to help, but appears to have another agenda. Their profound disorientation leaves them unsure of which route to choose. Red, blue, or green? All roads seem to lead to Blupool. There the device is to be renewed, and the fateful implosion occurs. The colours rotate, the fiction loops, and the pilgrims must start their search again.
Book Works is a leading contemporary arts organisation with a unique role as makers and publishers of books.
Established in 1984, we are dedicated to supporting new work by emerging artists. Our projects are initiated by invitation, open submission, and through guest-curated projects. Book Works consists of a publishing and commissioning department; and a studio specialising in binding, box-making and multiples.
The Book Works Studio offers a specialist bespoke service for a range of clients, from artists, designers, galleries, and businesses. We provide binding solutions, develop prototypes and specialise in unique book artworks, boxes, and portfolios. We have an extensive archive, and offer tailored educational events, and bookbinding courses. The Studio generates income from clients and is self-sufficient.
Book Works Publishing is dedicated to supporting new work by emerging artists. Our projects are initiated by invitation, open submission, and through guest-curated projects and include publishing, a lecture and seminar programme, exhibitions, the development of an online archive, and artists’ surgeries and workshops.
Our audience is vital to our work. The process of engaging and developing our audience is initiated with our commissioning programme, and driven through all aspects of our activities, particularly our public programme of events, our workshops, artists’ surgeries and education activities, and through our interest in collaborating with other organisations and libraries. Our programme of commissions is diverse, and reflects our commitment not just to work with cultural workers from all backgrounds, but to invest in networks and programmes that engage, and develop and create new artistic voices.
Include new projects with: Phyllis Christopher; Francesco Pedraglio; Sarah Tripp; Praneet Soi; Stuart Brisley; Nina Wakeford and Art on the Underground; Erica Scourti; Sophia Al-Maria; Bouchra Khalili; Laure Prouvost; Stephen Sutcliffe; Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan; Contact – a series guest edited by Hannah Black with Hamishi Farah, Momtaza Mehri and Derica Shields; and Interstices, a fiction series edited by Bridget Penney with Harun Morrison, Diana Georgiou and Licorice by Bridget Penney.
By supporting Book Works you will help support artists and writers at the emerging stage of their careers through our diverse commissioning programme of open submissions, guest editorships, public events, exhibitions and publications.
Book Works is a registered charity, dedicated to advance education for the benefit of the public in the visual arts, particularly books which may be recognised as works of art in their own right.
We have a board of trustees who input their range of diverse expertise and interests into our development:
Teresa Drace-Francis (Chair)
Gerrie van Noord