Martha Wilson Journals

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27.9 × 21.6 cm
272 pages
English language
Offset printing
Printed and bound by Snel
Includes a postcard as a bookmark    
Covered with a reading jacket


Edition of 400 copies signed by the artist
1965-1983 / 2021
Produced and published by mfc-michèle didier in 2021

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I'm always wondering how to act […] I don't live in the present 

The publication is a selection by Martha Wilson of pages from her diaries that document her experience as a woman and artist between 1965 and 1983. Setting up an inner dialogue, Journals of Martha Wilson is punctuated with personal notes, work notes, considerations, addresses to herself and to her relatives. The publication delivers a unique point of view, the psyche of an artist in the making, staging her work but also its representation in a form of introspection that mirrors her own performance practice.

A diary is defined as an autobiographical literary form in which the diarist tells the story of his/her own life, focusing on his/her individual life, history and personality. The author writes in the present tense, and the diary appears as much as a memorial aid as a medium for reflection and self-analysis. The diary is initially private and the narrator addresses himself de facto.

Martha Wilson primary concern is the structure of personality 

In her journals, Martha Wilson lets her writing reveal the very stakes of her artistic work as well as her preoccupations at the time linked to her physique, her personality and her identity.
The artist talks about her work in concrete terms, referring directly to her artworks, as well as in more theoretical terms where her work and her identity seem to merge. She alternates expression in the first person and then in the third person, according to a common grammatical form in English called illeism, which is the act of referring to oneself. She then constantly returns to the idea of the person she would like to be or should be, to her construction as a woman and to her relationship with men, I designed all my movements to play on him. But also on her position as a daughter in her relationship with her parents, I only exist in relation to my parents, friends, culture, and his position as an artist, I hate self indulgence or self expression.

Life is a performance 

Martha Wilson's journals focus on the construction of the individual and her personality, on the attempt to define herself, I am writing to discover an answer, to transcend herself, to transform herself, I am attempting to transform myself, through small changes of habit such as the cessation of chewing gum consumption, or the entry into a form of sexual maturity, Change my loyalty from food to sex / Sexual punishment, the only weapon a woman have.

Her life was mostly theory

Martha Wilson observes with distancing her own behaviour and her relationship with others: Betsy is the main character, as well as her attempts to imitate them: someone to emulate or to assimilate them: suck identity from individuals [...]  Begun at the age of eighteen, her diary quickly reveals her questioning of the quality of her artistic work and its legitimacy, as well as her journey as director of Franklin Furnace, which, in 1972, bears the first mention of: the idea of opening a gallery.

She didn't have a personnality of her own 

At the same time, a series of related questions emerge from her private life and the traumas of her upbringing. She informs us that she was raised in a Skimmer box — a New Age invention cconsisting of placing infants in transparent plastic boxes thermo-regulated to build a superior baby  — and also reveals her father's incestuous behaviour which she rediscovers following a therapy Dad asked if I was wearing panties.

This is followed by a series of reflections related to illness and ageing: Mother is getting old, I am going to die, I am going to have an heart attack, and which will be reflected in the lyrics of the songs of DISBAND, Black lung, Rebel song and Dad is Dead that will conclude the book.

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