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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

SCUMB Manifesto

 WOW

Justine Kurland Cuts the Male Canon to Pieces

In SCUMB Manifesto, Kurland slices up her collection of photo books by men to create collages that subvert the male gaze.
Justine Kurland, “Nudes (Second Chance)” (2021), all images from SCUMB Manifesto (courtesy the artist and MACK)

Justine Kurland’s SCUMB Manifesto is the photo book to end all photo books — literally.  SCUMB, which stands for Society for Cutting Up Men’s Books, is Kurland’s homage to Valerie Solanas’s infamous, semi-satirical 1967 manifesto, which advocated for the destruction of the male sex. “I call for the end of the graphic representation of the male canon,” Kurland writes in bold-faced capitals on the book’s front cover: “Your time is over, officer historian…. I’m coming for you with a blade.”

As institutions, galleries, and art fairs work to correct art history’s lopsided canon with varying levels of sincerity, Kurland steps in and raises the stakes. SCUMB Manifesto reads like a dare: by speaking the taboo, embodying the fear in the back of every traditionalist’s mind, Kurland is daring you, the reader, to act — or react. Because the resistance to changing a predominantly white and male historical narrative often stems from one thing: the fear of replacement. The fear that that woman whose script you stole will come back with a gun, like Solanas did, and that history will forgive her the way it forgives men like William Burroughs. Kurland points the knife in the reader’s direction and asks: “Whose side are you on?”

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