Details

ISBN-10: 0819573116
ISBN-13: 9780819573117
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publish Date: 09/26/2012
Dimensions: 8.60" L, 5.70" W, 0.70" H

Public Figures

Hardcover

Price: $24.95

Overview

An investigation of the gap between sight and site

Public Figures is an essay-poem with photographs and text that begins with a playful thought experiment: statues of people in public spaces have eyes, but what are they looking at? To answer that question, Jena Osman sets up a camera to track the gaze of a number of statues in Philadelphia–mostly 19th century military figures carrying weapons. How does their point of view differ from our own? And how does it compare, say, to the point of view of other watchful military figures, such as drone pilots? In this book, Osman combines the histories behind these statues with poetic narratives that ask us to think about our own relational positions, and how our own everyday gaze may be complicit with the gun-sights of war. Public Figures illustrates how history is transformed, and even erased, by monuments and other public records of events. Through poetry, those histories can be made visible again. Check for the online reader’s companion at http: //publicfigures.site.wesleyan.edu.

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Reviews
Osman puts public memory back in the public memorials.–Rachel Trousdale, Rain Taxi

multi-award winner Jena Osman draws on a slide lecture to offer a mediation on public statuary in Philadelphia, particularly those bearing arms.–Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

The essayistic concept at the heart of the book is brilliant. Like the best documentary work, Public Figures answers the hand-wringing question of 'how can art be political' rather simply: you make it about the world. As in the passage quoted above, the playfully intent moments of Osman's guidebook (there are some fantastic pages in which Osman diagrams the intersecting gazes of several martial statues) enliven one's historical imagination, while also revealing a 'you' that moves in our shared present.–Zach Savich, Kenyon Review

What Osman's politically-engaged text does is force us to confront the alternating ugliness and meaninglessness of our historical sense, not to mention the travesties of language that that benighted sense often compels us to endorse. Public Figures is a compelling read from every and any angle.–Seth Abramson, Huffington Post

Osman puts public memory back in the public memorials.–Rachel Trousdale, Rain Taxi

As much as it objects to some wars far away, the essay keeps its heart in Osman's Philly, whose streetscapes point both to the present and back to the U.S. Civil War. Osman's terse juxtapositions, careful background, and her lightly used but deeply relevant quotations place her close to Claudia Rankine, or to Juliana Sphar.–Publishers Weekly
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Details

ISBN-10: 0819573116
ISBN-13: 9780819573117
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publish Date: 09/26/2012
Dimensions: 8.60" L, 5.70" W, 0.70" H
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