Widow, A Fashion Magazine by Peregrine Honig
Magazine explores connections between fashion and art
Peregrine Honig sits on a chair in her home west of the Crossroads. She wears black slacks and a long-sleeved black top with a detailed print of silver stars. Her attire evokes the look of a recent widow, albeit one with a celestial design about her. The appearance seems apropos as she discusses Widow, a 168-page fashion magazine covering significant works in her artistic career and curated works from 18 local and international artists, musicians, and photographers. Investing incalculable hours of work over two years, Honig worked with Landfall Press, her third collaboration with the Chicago-based fine art printer, to produce this impressive piece of art.
Widow, a glossy one-volume fashion magazine in form and function, was produced in a limited edition run of 1500 copies. The first 500 (the deluxe edition, $700) will include a reading glove by Kansas City designer Peggy Noland. The magazine draws lines between the fashion industry and the fine art world through bold visual imagery that pricks at social conventions.
The cover, complete with an ISBN code listing a $600 price tag for the basic edition, features Honig in a silver-sequined dress with metallic jewelry to match. The fur draped around her arms and her black hat bedecked with feathers complete the image of a high-end fashion model surrounded by flitting hummingbirds.
Widow by Landfall Press and Peregrine Honig
Preview and Signing: Thursday, February 25, 6-8 PM
The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art at Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Boulevard in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, will host a reception celebrating the publication of Widow by Kansas City artist Peregrine Honig. The reception, which is free and open to the public, features hors d’oeuvres and live music in the museum atrium.
Widow explores the complexities of fashion culture and beauty in the format of a limited-edition glossy magazine. Honig has been printing with Landfall Press for more than 10 years, and her ideas and images challenge issues of commercial trends and social hierarchies.
Designed to be a fashion magazine aesthetically and functionally, the inside cover features a table of contents and credits: the front cover calligraphy is by Yohan “Scribbles” and the back cover art by Maiko Kuzunishi. Further inside the publication, readers will find a fold-out poster, a credits/contributor page, an essay by Zane Fischer that aptly views Honig’s work here as an examination of fashion, celebrity, and consumerism, and an introduction from Chicago-based art critic Alicia Eler. To complete the package, a shop guide is included in the final pages. Finally, the magazine contains a CD titled Snuff Black that features Jimmy Carl Black, Eugene Chadbourne, and Mark Southerland’s Snuff Jazz. It is the final studio recording of Black, the drummer from Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
Initially, the raw material of Widow was not intended to be a bound fashion magazine. Honig was preparing work for another print series to be produced by printmaker Jack Lemon and Landfall Press. Her initial direction was to publish her art as a small edition of prints with many layers using lithography and multiple color separations. According to Honig, Lemon asked why she would make a print that looked like a magazine. Why not just make a magazine?
“It’s the most exciting opportunity presented to me,” says Honig. “It makes so much sense. Sometimes it takes someone else to make sense of your work for you. That’s why I love working with Landfall Press.”
In a post-Industrial age of mechanical reproduction and digital manipulation, producing and distributing work can be as simple as cut and paste, point and click. The prospect of printing a physical magazine with the heft of a coffee table book was daunting and its raison d’etre was not to be undertaken lightly. “It’s interesting, the luxury of print in a time of transition where information is coming from the Internet,” says Honig.
Because the magazine was produced as a limited edition, there’s a scarcity of the physical product that inherently gives it value in a capitalist system. The magazine as a commerical item also exists as a work of art and, potentially, a piece of pop culture. Honig wanted to create a magazine that served a specific purpose artistically. “The idea was to make it available and accessible as an authentic piece of art,” says Honig. “It had not been done before, publishing a magazine considered as art.”
Widow flirts with the traditional usage of a disposable fashion magazine that can be archival as well. Its physicality has weight and form as a document that engages the senses unlike a digital experience. It is a single stone submerged in a vast stream of online information that circulates through our lives. While so much data is available at our fingertips, the very form of Widow is a reminder of visual images and language captured with old technology. It’s scarcity is also a counterpoint to the modern, easy access to archived information from across the globe. “Search engines are an international archive,” Honig points out. “It changes the way we handle information and objects as the Internet becomes more of a standard.”
As an objet d’art meant to be handled, Honig considered the magazine’s form and function. “It’s made to age well. Design-wise, I had to resolve the aesthetic of the layout,” she says. On one hand, it’s an expensive bound art piece. On the other hand, it’s intented to be viewed by paging through it. “Working the design out was pleasurable. It makes fun of itself. Some things are blatant; some things are subtle. I hope that it will grow on people.
“For those who want to be careful with it, there’s a reading glove. Part of handling the magazine is having the luxury of not handling it well,” says Honig. As a creator and curator, she is interested in the ephemeral nature of this printed work of art. “How it will age will be interesting. I look forward to seeing one that’s dog-eared.”