THE comprehensive book on the graphic art of the legendary punk-provocateur Gee Vaucher, from 1961-1997. This is the new, revised and expanded edition from 2012 by Exitstencil Press, London. Not only are much of the more salient works from her years making artwork for Anarcho-punk band Crass collected here, but also a wealth of additional material, including Vaucher’s graphic work as a freelance artist in New York before her Crass years, extending the volume approximately 10 more pages compared to the original Exitstencil Press/AK Press edition of 1999.
It’s great that Gee Vaucher’s work has been collected together in this book and that we can witness the brave journey she has travelled as an artist and activist. By its nature, her work has previously appeared in unexpected places, giving a shock of truth. That’s been a large part of its power. Gee is a prime example of what Walter Benjamin called ‘the author as producer’. The subversion within the content of her work has been developed through subverting and creating new outlets. Through magazines, newspapers and especially through Crass, her work has mainly entered into the world not through the gallery, but as part of a publication, a voice connected to other voices who have said ‘No’ to the great lie of mass media. Her work is in the tool-box with all the other examples of cultural strength that aims to put a spanner in the works. It hasn’t been an easy journey, because Gee was not only inventing an image, but finding a context for that image, a context that, like her images, develops a world view against the grain. It’s like inventing a word and then having to invent the punctuation and sentence structure in which to place it. Gee’s work lives beyond the time it was made and its specific references. It is beautifully constructed whether in gouache, collage, pastel or any other medium. The exquisite technical perfection of the gouache work gives a hyper-reality to their searing critique of everyday life in the West. The anger that fuels the work has become more ‘inward’ as time progresses. It is as if her work is now trying to reach inside bodies to find a social truth from the interior of our physical being. Her art tears through the lies that are now the official discourse of a different reality. Through connection and dislocation she makes a plea for us to look again at the flood of images with which we are constantly bombarded, and to fight our way through them to other possible worlds. The title of the book is apt. Gee’s work is pre postmodernist in its humanity and its belief that art can deal with social morality. In that sense, through all the horror and pain depicted, there is an optimism, a suggestion that an alternative is possible. Wheras a lot of postmodernism seems to be a passive acceptance of the status quo, Gee never does a postmodernist shrug in the face of the real. She pulls us apart and puts us together in such a way as to shake us up and wake us up. May she go on ringing those alarm bells.
– Peter Kennard, London 1997
“In his foreword Peter Kennard describes Vaucher as ‘a voice connected to other voices who have said “NO” to the great lie of mass media’. Her work is as shocking now as when it was first created: an unadorned depiction of rape in war, collaged studies of gender-contradictory nudes, a sustained and passionate anti-militarism. Her work does not aim to please but to invite study. This is a body of work with modernity, gravitas and bite.” — Hilary Bichovsky, Red Pepper Magazine “Artists often lament the loss of quality when their work is reproduced. The work of a purely-graphic artist is invariably enhanced by the printing process. In its original form, Gee Vaucher’s work is intricate and tactile, and while the imagery is sometimes almost overwhelming, the primary concerns are those of the painterdealing with form and space. Mere newsprint would hardly seem able to do justice to its subtle tones. When work is printed, the space becomes more simple and the graphic images take on a different life. The visual concerns are those of delivery, and the message is clear. Painstakingly executed and almost private paintings are transformed into powerful illustrations by the brilliance of Gee Vaucher’s vision. While the stenches of corruption and injustice do linger, it is an honourable thing to point or even lift a finger.” — Ian Dury, 1997
- Crass Art and Other Pre Post-Modernist Monsters 1961-1997
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