Amy Bassin: In Praise of Strong Spines
Tussle Projects is excited to present new work by Amy Bassin. These sculptural decollages are made from the process of cutting up pages of books to metamorphosize them into sculptural narratives.
At the beginning of the pandemic when Trump proclaimed the virus was a hoax,Bassin cut up the book Fear: Trump in the White House as an act of defiance to express her rage at the spineless Trump administration. Initially, the destructive act of cutting the pages became an outlet for her anger, but the obsessive repetition of the process ended up meditative.
The destruction of the books comes not as a dismissal of its content but as a transformation from the written to the visual. While they started out as a metaphor of how Bassin felt ‘ripped to shreds’ with loss and anxiety during the Coronavirus crisis, the sculptural decollages, In Praise of Strong Spines express a celebration of the soul.
With a strong spine in the face of tragedy, the human spirit can endure at the intersection of the existential questions of meaning and purpose.
Amy Bassin is an artist from New York City whose works seek to raise awareness about social injustice against women, children and a free press.
Tussle Projects: Raising awareness through your work is a significant part of your process, can you expand on this social dimension of your work?
Amy Bassin: I find it incredibly rewarding to create work that is not only is thought provoking but could spark conversations, a change in one’s thinking and/or even an action.
My trilogy of artists books “Head First into Emotional Evolution,” was exhibited in the controversial exhibition “The 1st Feminnale of Contemporary Art” at the National Museum of Fine Arts, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, December 2019. As soon as the exhibition was opened Islamic fundamentalists protested and demanded that the Kyrgyzstan government censor and remove eight artworks that exposed abuse towards women or revealed a nude female body.
Both the director and curator, Altyn Kapalova, of the museum had to resign and endured hate mail and death threats for months. Counter to that ‘suppression,’ this sparked a worldwide outpouring of social media support and press in The New York Times and ArtNet.
Additionally, part of that series was also exhibited in Suffrage and Struggle: Feminist Art and the 19th Amendment Centennial, at the Dorrance H. Hamilton Gallery at Salve Regina University, RI, in March 2020. That exhibition inspired students to gather and motivated them to create posters about equal rights.
My initial intent with In Praise of Strong Spines was to build upon a previous series Post-Literate where I created ‘redacted’ drawings on pages in books to lament the destruction of written language through a censorship that feeds a national trend towards functional illiteracy. But as I began shredding books and hung them on the wall I found something optimistic in their message.