A Little Book of Awkwardness

"Awkward" detail, Lisa Hasegawa, 2007

We all feel awkward from time to time and we all say things we wish we hadn’t said. I want to show you how this little book puts our common feelings of embarrassment and regret into a visual, tactile form.

The text:

Sometimes when I talk my words don’t come out quite right. I am not as stupid as I sound and  I don’t mean to offend. “Shut up!” I tell myself, “Stop talking” but I can’t help it; I am awkward.

Reading this makes me cringe. I know exactly what the artist is talking about and I’ve been there myself. But it’s not just the text that conveys this message, it’s also the structure of the book itself that helps tell the story.

The pages of the book are loosely held together with black sewing thread. This binding style makes the book difficult to handle and to read. However, the thread also serves another purpose. It obscures the words themselves. For me, the unstable binding and the crossed-out words give visual form to my lack of confidence in awkward situations.

The black stitching on the backs of the pages serves a different purpose. This text captures the internal dialogue in the artists’ mind as she’s having this awkward conversation. Can you see how this text is clear and not obscured? It’s intact and easy to read above the frenzied static of the black thread below.

What do you think? Has Lisa Hasegawa created an artists’ book that successfully communicates her message? If not, how would you change it? I’d love to hear what you think.

If you would like to see some of TSCPL’s artists’ books for yourself, contact Special Collections Librarian Brea Black at 785-580-4512 or bblack@tscpl.org to set up an appointment.

To find out more about this artist and her work visit her website at: www.ilfant.com.