Johanna Drucker's Artist Books
An online repository of facsimiles, metadata, and commentary



Project Statement

An elegantly conceived and produced work created from texts and photographs made during a trip to Cuba in 2003.

Production Narrative

Brad Freeman took pictures during the Havana trip and Johanna Drucker took notes. Then Freeman made collages, designed and laid out the book, printed and produced it in all particulars, including the binding and box making.

Critical Analysis

Design Features

typographic: Agenda is used throughout for the texts, a font used in Nova Reperta and thus familiar in terms of its colors and capabilities.

imagery: The imagery combines photographs of things, persons, sites, events observed directly, as well as scanned and rephotographed materials. These include images of the history museum, cigar labels, graphics, the type sample book mentioned in the colophon, and other visuals. The overall look combines the patterns of stained glass, jewel colors, and Caribbean tones.

graphical: The layout shifts from double-columned text to text spread into photo-collage pages so that there is a feeling of fluidity and movement throughout

openings: The contrast of papers introduces a textural play in the openings between the lighter Japanese sheets and the stiff German Hahnemüle.

turnings: The turnings also register the paper difference, with the drape of the Japanese paper strikingly distinct from the stiff German, with its opacity and substance.

development: The account carries the momentum.

textual: A telegraphic text, fragmented and abrupt, with a manic speed in its attempt at recording fresh impressions before they fade.

Critical Discussion

The look of the book lends an aura of religious, sacred intensity to it because of the digital pattern that echoes stained glass, and the rich colors used throughout. The photographs are rich, layered, with elaborate passages that connect historical and contemporary events and persons. Their substantial character balances the rapid pace of the text, with its short syntax and abrupt quality. As a travel narrative and work about art and beliefs, it is well-served by the seductive richness of the presentation, the fetish-like book box, and details like ribbon and gold corners. The themes are developed and carry through the book, and it is a deliberately immersive book, one that struggles to bring the impressions of a very intense and unfamiliar environment into representation.



Brad Freeman

type: initiating


Johanna Drucker

type: other


Publication Information

publisher: JAB Books

publication: 2005-00-00

publication history: Published in 2006.

Aesthetic Profile

other Documentary.

travel literature (AAT)

themes: Cuba and its contradictions, art and the legacy of avant-garde beliefs.

content form:
prose (local)

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)

inspiration: Trip to Cuba.

related works: Italy.

other influences: The graphics and visual culture of Cuba.

community: press JABBooks

Related Documents

manuscript type: texts

location: artist's archive

note: In the collection of Johanna Drucker.


Publication Information

edition type: editioned

publisher: JAB Books

place: Chicago, Illinois, USA

publication: 2005-00-00

edition size: 20 Copies


horizontal: 9 inches closed

vertical: 12 inches closed

depth: 2 inches closed

Production Information

production means:
inkjet (AAT)

binding: case binding (AAT)

endsheets: paper

other materials: Foil stamping on the cover label with the title CUBA.


general description: Cuba consists of a silk-covered box within which are a book that is the main text with images and behind which is a smaller book Torre de Letras that is about our day at the celebration of the poets and also contains Reina Maria Rodriguez's text, "time's arrest" in original Spanish and translation.

format: codex (AAT)

cover: Cover of the box is purple-gold silk book cloth with dark red accents, trim, and hinges. The large book has color printed covers, dark red spine strip in silk, and gold metal corner pieces.

color: yes Color is used throughout, and vividly, luxuriously, as well as with a startling intensity that registers disjunctures in the images.

devices: The book box serves as a device, holding the smaller book in an opening made for it. Ribbons in the box help the books lift out.

item: The books within the box, the smaller book referenced within the larger book, can both be thought of as enclosures in a sense.


pagination: unpaginated

numbered?: numbered

signed?: signed


This book is based on a trip to Havana in 2003. Text by Johanna Drucker. Photographs, digital collages and design by Brad Freeman. Hand bound by BF after the jaconette one signature design of Keith Smith. The type elements are from a facsimile type sample book generously presented to us by Jorge Luis Areos and originally printed by the Imprenta Marina, Habana 1836. Special thanks to: the people of Cuba including Luisa, Jorge, Reina, and Jorge, Pedro and all the other poets and artists, Ernesto Livon-Grosman, Charles Bernstein, Susan Bee, Loss Glazier. Trica Buckley and Georgia Gerber, Rochester NY. Mary Jo Pauly at Minnesota Center for the Book Arts. Joan Lyons at Visual Studies Workshop Press, Rochester, NY. Kathy Farrell at Monroe Community College, Rochester. Helen Frederick at Pyramid Atlantic, Washington, DC. Inkjet printed on on Epson Stylus Photo 2200. The papers are Hahnemüle Photo Rag Duo and Warahan-shi. Copyright 2005.

Related Documents

manuscript type: texts

location: other