Justine Kurland: SCUMB Manifesto
Inspired by Valerie Solanas’ iconoclastic feminist tract SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto, SCUMB Manifesto introduces us to photographer Justine Kurland’s own uncompromising initiative: the Society for Cutting Up Men’s Books. This volume presents a collection of collages Kurland created by cutting up and reconfiguring photobooks by male artists, as she went through the process of purging her own library of roughly 150 books by straight white men that have monopolized the photographic canon. The nature of collage — heterogeneous, pulled apart, shape shifting, disrupted, cyborg, fantasy — has long made it a feminist strategy in life and in art. Kurland’s ritual is restorative and loving: each work is a reclamation of history; a dismemberment of the patriarchy; a gender inversion of the usual terms of possession; and a modest attempt at offsetting a life of income disparity. While markedly different in style, the defiant female visions pictured in these compositions are a continuation of those depicted in Kurland’s earlier photographic projects Girl Pictures (1997–2002) and Mama Babies (2004–07). Each work in SCUMB sounds an electrifying call for freedom — the freedom to create, to destroy, to imagine, and to reshape our visual and social world.