Ediciones Vigía books in art and cultural history
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The Cuban press Ediciones Vigía was founded in April of 1985 by Rolando Estévez Jordán, chief designer and draftsman of the press, and Alfredo Zaldívar, a Cuban poet. The Vigía collective of writers, artists, and volunteers have been working collaboratively since 1985 to publish handmade books that combine art, literature, and movable parts. Today, the artists and volunteers at Vigía are recognized internationally for their ability to creatively repurpose materials and craft unique, interactive works of book art that feature the work of both Cuban and non-Cuban writers and poets. In this thesis, I focus my attention on the press between 1985 and the early 2000s. I aim to place Vigía books made during this period within historic and modern contexts to reveal how the press stands as a model for Cuban identity, and how the books published by Vigía present Cuba's cultural history as a continuum, unbroken by the Cuban Revolution of 1959. I begin by first contextualizing Vigía books within the larger framework of art history and handmade books, focusing specifically on the relationships that can be found between the Cuban books, medieval manuscripts, and Renaissance prints. Locating the Vigía books within the twentieth-century Cuban vanguardia and new art movements also provides a historical framework that informs our understanding of the society in which these books were created. Finally, a close analysis of one book, Hechizo del Vigía, within both historic and modern contexts demonstrates how Ediciones Vigía's handmade books, as I argue, serve as authentic symbols of Cuban identity.
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