The Cesspool of Rapture

Noonan-Ganley, Joseph. 2019. The Cesspool of Rapture. [Artist's Book]

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Abstract or Description

This book shows the interaction of two bodies of language from the English-American couturier Charles James (1906–78). The column registered to the left margin logs James’s public speech, lectures, and theories of the stripper and burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee (1911–70), while the column registered to the right logs transcripts of his private arguments and correspondence with her. Spacing, repetition, colour, and italics emphasise and shift James’s intended
meaning. Readers can pull the text together as they make their way through, undertaking a similar labour of composition to the work of a zipper’s slider.

These texts were created by drawing together and rewriting original sources and fragments alongside writing speculative fictional additions, that allowed each column to be elaborated. Subjects such as cultural recognition and credit, the emergence of authored ideas and the difficulty in synthesising different positions during collaboration are unearthed and reflect the reader's immediate experience of the form of the book. These themes expose previously hidden dimensions of the working life of James and Rose Lee.

Noonan-Ganley developed this text through a series of public performances (at venues including the Henry Moore Institute), where he worked with specific readers to read aloud specific colour-coded parts of the text in a chronological fashion. The effect of this is that the voice of the text passes through and over the readers rather than attempting to be aligned with the spoken sounds of any one reader’s voice.

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Artist's Book

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Date Deposited:

16 Nov 2022 16:14

Last Modified:

18 Jan 2023 13:23


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