Searching

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Searching is a limited edition book and print incorporating elements of Samuel Steward’s “The Stud File” and The Gutter in the Sky, Andre Levy’s pirated translation of Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers. “The Stud File”, found within Steward’s expansive archives, is a standard single card catalog drawer containing upwards of one thousand documented sexual encounters that Steward had over the course of his lifetime, including samples of pubic and head hair Steward discretely taped to the backs of some cards as mementos of his encounters. Searching includes 25 graphite drawings inspired by these samples.

Accompanying the drawings is a series of short poems created from found text in an illegal translation of Jean Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers entitled The Gutter in the Sky. Our Lady of the Flowers was originally translated into English by Bernard Frechtman. However, before this book could enter the US market, a re-translation of Frechtman’s translation was published by Andre Levy in 1955 illegally and without Genet’s permission. This pirated book would undercut Steward’s attempts to translate and publish legally his own version of Our Lady of the Flowers until the 1963 Grove Press edition. Levy’s translation includes italicized sections of “improved” text, including entirely altered passages and Americanized vernacular. The poems in Searching were created by re-imagining these passages to explore the lives and identities of Steward, Genet and the artist.

Searching is a part of an evolving multi-media project focused on the creation of artwork based on research done in the archives of Samuel Steward located at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

About Samuel Steward: Samuel Steward was a professor, tattoo artist, translator and writer whose work spanned fiction, biography and pornography. He was a close friend of Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas, and a collaborator of Alfred Kinsey, who urged Steward to document the worlds of tattoo and homosexual sex, including Steward’s own sexual acts. “The Stud File” is a result of this documentation.

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