by Johanna Drucker
Testament of Women is a radical retelling of tales of biblical women. These figures are archtetypes in western thought - Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Esther - whose stories have been reinterpreted by generations. In this version, the women are each represented by a linoleum cut based on a real, living woman whose identity embodies a current, lived experience that parallels the original. The biblical story is recast and retold, alongside an excerpt from scripture and a statement of the lesson to be learned. The typographic layout and motif of broken rule(s) in the headers and on the end sheets reinforces the contemporary feel, though the use of letterpress and hand-made cuts extends traditional fine print values. Taken as a whole, the book is a feminist artist's dialogue with a received tradition, and a deliberate attempt to rethink the interpretation of these major female figures. The writing combines multiple registers - vernacular, popular slang, literary syntax, poetic vocabulary, and scriptural tones. The linoleum cuts are in a contemporary expressionist idiom, physical and striking in pose and presence. The end sheets are original paste papers, the book is letterpress throughout, hand-set in Goudy bold 6 pt., 8 pt., 10 pt., 12 pt., 14 pt., 18 pt., 24 pt., 30 pt., 36 pt., and 48 pt. The book is bound in poppy silk in a single signature. Forty copies were produced in the edition, of which 25 only were offered for sale through Granary Books. The book is a Druckwerk/Granary publication, produced between 2005-2006, by the author-artist, in Charlottesville, Virginia at the Virginia Center for the Book Arts.