The Torture Among Us

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“Cry Uncle” is a commentary on torture by illustrator Frances Jetter. It’s a 23-page (limited edition of 15 copies) accordion-fold book with 18” x 24” linoleum cuts, printed on translucent, handmade Japanese paper. The woodtype was printed in letterpress. The unfolded book is more than 40 feet long.

Jetter’s work, once a staple of the Op-Ed page, addresses political and social issues, “not only to protest and document,” but “as an exploration of human nature,” she notes. “The way type looks and sounds as it becomes a character’s voice is of great interest, as well as how language changes meaning with the addition of a comma, or by modifying scale or font.”

These cuts are among Jetter’s most emotionally stark, yet graphically subtle. The book comes in a sack to suggest one of a method of torture so common today. The “thin, creased, fragile looking Nepalese paper on the cover resembles human skin. The translucence of the interior pages allows the viewer to glimpse the shadow image of what came previously,” Jetter adds. “The zippered red mouth on the sack that holds the book is the beginning and end of the story; the torturer’s lips are sealed.”

“Cry Uncle” will be on view tonight, November 8, at the Langone Medical Center Art Gallery (550 First Avenue) in New York. Dr. Keller, the founder of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, will speak at the 6pm reception.

Read this past weekend’s Daily Hellers on John Waters here, and David Byrne and Hillman Curtis here.

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