The Many Lives of Miss Chatelaine
Artist: Douglas Beube
Collection: Artist’s Books and Bookworks
Call Number: N 7433.4 B566 A6 M36 2008 folio
For every honourary degree awarded by the U of A, a customized artist book is commissioned for the recipient. In 2008, one of those books was The Many Lives of Miss Chatelaine, constructed to represent the fluid and multifaceted persona of k.d. lang. Artist books invite readers to question the difference between art and text by combining both — in this case, words from lang’s biography, written by Victoria Starr, have been highlighted, drawn around, and structured into 14 panels (referring to lang’s 14 studio albums that had been released at the time). Panels are joined by sturdy zippers, allowing for the ordering and reordering of text. The work’s mutability acts as a metaphor for the many many fluid facets of k.d. lang’s life — as an animal rights activist, LGBT spokesperson, and Canadian musician.
“Should it be flat? Should it be up? Should it zipped? Should it be unzipped? This work exists in all of those states simultaneously. There’s no one true way for it to be.” — Jeff Papineau, Library Assistant, Bruce Peel Special Collections & Archives