Marking Time: Her Days by April Katz, like so many other artist’s books, especially those found published by the Women’s Studio Workshop, integrates the constructive creativity of sculpture into the literary world of books. Just as Amaranth Borsuk explains in The Book, artist books “disrupt our treatment of the book as a transparent container for literary and aesthetic ‘content’ and engage its material form in the work’s meaning”, so does this artist’s book use its three-way-binding form to reminisce upon the past generations that left notebooks behind (Borsuk 113). However, Katz also disrupts the idea of a book through the way she evokes the non-literary book medium of the calendar and the datebook, incorporating the square blocks from calendars into a poetic discourse. The spiral binding of the datebook is tripled in Katz’s artist book, making the pages open from not only the left, but the right and top as well, with the pages alternating which way they must be flipped, perhaps paying homage to the various datebook forms all at the same time. She also uses thin and clear paper, letting the images and words from the pages fade in and out of view no matter which page the reader is currently reading. This thin paper reminded me of carbon paper, making the office imagery throughout the book, such as the rotary dial phone and the office chair, remarkably vibrant, indicative of an age long gone by to my generation.
And time is vitally important to Katz’s book, just as the title suggests, through its passing and how it is preserved, especially in how Katz preserves the memory of her mother. Maybe that is why Katz uses the triple spiral binding: to show the implicit three periods of time as the past, present, and the future cannot remain linear in Katz’s literary world. In the end, once everything is scheduled and planned just as her mother had with her datebook, only the routine becomes relevant.
Borsuk, Amaranth. The Book. Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2018.
Katz, April. Marking Time: Her Days. Rosendale, Women’s Studio Workshop, 2003, https://wsworkshop.org/collection/marking-time-her-days/.