Portland, Oregon: Scantron Press, 2016. Limited Edition. "object n., object v. was created to link present day gender inequality to our ancient past. Male control over women’s bodies and women’s sexuality continues around the world, as does the hierarchy of objective beauty. While the ancient Greeks were oppressing and objectifying women, an egalitarian society roamed north of the Black Sea. Legendary warrior women known as Amazons rode horses, practiced archery, fought to defend and conquer, and had sexual freedom. In this artist book I have juxtaposed two parallel worlds through objects and imagery. All the text is derived from two books that paint the picture and tell the story. Helen of Troy: Beauty, Myth, Devastation by Ruby Blondell and The Amazons: Lives & Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor. When I read that self-reliant warrior women existed in the ancient world I was inspired and I wanted to share that knowledge to rekindle a collective vision of equality." [artist statement]
U. of Washington contextualized the work as follows: "Diane Jacobs’ book object n. object v. deals with the many ways in which women are seen as objects as compared with women who object to being classified. The “objectified” women are represented by the model Greek woman in ancient Greece; the freespirited “objecting” women are represented by Amazons. The exterior of the book is a finely-crafted, oval-shaped wooden box, its curved surface inscribed with the names of Amazon women. A belt-like leather fastener is undone to swing open the box and reveal two units, each fitted with inscribed glass panels. Partially in view behind these panels—resting on shelves on the left and attached to vertical panels on the right—are artist-made artifacts, painted, embossed and sculpted imagery, and collected ephemera.
The inscription on the left side describes the ancient Greek notion that a woman’s
beauty was inherently dangerous, that her sexuality must be controlled and she must be
contained. These were the attitudes directed toward, for example, Helen of Troy, who is famously gazed upon but who some argue has little agency, and whose story is alluded to here; Ruby Blondell’s study Helen of Troy: Beauty, Myth, Devastation informs this piece in its powerful exploration of female subjectivity and identity. The artifacts on the shelves include
representations of eyes, teeth and breasts. The breasts have been carefully crafted from
eggshells—a most interesting choice of materials that not only provides perfectly accurately shaped breasts but also connotes the sexual and reproductive functions of breasts.
These artifacts, along with others, lie on the horizontal shelves as though the women they
represent must accept these stereotypes lying down.
The right side of the book depicts Amazons—women who choose to be self-defined. The
inscription on the glass panel on this side 1 contains such phrases as “self reliant,” “warrior women,” “belong to no man,” and “free to make love on her own terms.” These panels,
some of which slide out, are vertical, standing upright like the Amazon warriors. On one panel is a text reading, “The fantasy of female perfection turns out to be a male illusion.” Other panels include military dog tags and Jacobs’ graphically powerful paintings of Amazon warriors.
Jacobs, who often uses hair in her art, weaves the title of her piece object n. object v. into
two combs using horsehair. Although Jacobs typically uses human hair, which is often her
own, in this instance, the human hair did not result in a readable text. In searching for a
different material, Jacobs experimented with horsehair, which proved to be a suitable weft
and allowed Jacobs to create clear and legible text. Horsehair also operates on a symbolic level, because women in antiquity were often compared to wild horses that had to be tamed.
object n. object v. invites a comparison of the roles of ancient Greek women and free-thinking Amazons. Sight and touch, intellect and emotion come into play as the viewer reads the
text and handles the objects. The comparison of the “ideal woman”—the woman as defined by others—and the woman who defines herself is a theme that began in antiquity is and is ongoing today.
Both Girdled and object n. object v. pay homage to archaeological and anthropological
evidence and oral traditions. But each book does this in a very different way: Girdled uncovers multiple meanings in a single “archeological” find; object n, object v. compares varied roles of women and their points of view from ancient times to the present. Both books are intelligent, thought-provoking and beautifully crafted. When viewed singly, each book
provides a rich and complete experience. As a pair, they form a fascinating and complex
dialogue on definitions of womanhood." [Just One Look, 2016]. Fine. Bright and unmarred. Wood and glass custom case with laser cut text, materials include glass, chicken egg shells, plaster, tangerine skin, gold leaf, acrylic balls, antique glass/aluminum slide mounts, India ink on vellum, oil paint, water color, human hair, wood, leather, aluminum combs, ceramic, military dog tags, and molded handmade cotton paper. np. Numbered limited edition of 4. Item #9240