Hermes Baby 2011

Total EDITION  10 + 3 A/P
Size 1
Print size: H6.5 x W9cm
Framed size: size 28 x 33cm  [Groups of 4 prints- Flag]
Ilford Bromide Paper B4-1P  [Vintage]
Printed by artist from 35mm slide transparency
Edition 5+ 2 A/P

Size 2
Print size: H 9 x W11.5cm
Framed size: size 28 x 33cm  [Individual- Handkerchief]
Ilford Bromide Paper C2-1P 2  [Vintage]
Printed from 35mm slide transparency
Edition 5+ 1A/P

Slide Writer
Total EDITION Edition 5+ 1A/P
Print Size:  9.3 x 10cm
Frame Size:  28 x 33cm
Unique Metal frame/UV Perspex/Archival mount

Text Provenance:
War in Korea: Report of a Woman Combat Correspondence 1951
Marguerite Higgins

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Hermes Baby, returns to themes persistent in Bailey's art over the last decade, but manifests an alternative aesthetic. While still clearly reverential to the waning lure of paper and script in an monotonously digitized age (2 Willow Road 2003; Hours of Devotion 2007) and to those powerfully unstereotypical precursors to conventional feminism such as Lee Miller (Postcript 2005; About Face 2005), Hermes Baby subverts the process of image-making that Bailey has hitherto largely adhered to. Here rather than simply shooting the edges of books or letters to invoke a natural nostalgia for the passing of the more traditional forms of the human dissemination of information, she has created from 35mm slide transparencies a series of what she terms “white handkerchiefs”, adorned with text and presented in multiples in spare white boxframes. A long way from the large format digital prints of previous series, she has handprinted using traditional darkroom techniques these monochromatic text flags onto unexposed vintage Bromide paper. When left to dry, the small slips of paper curl naturally, their sculpted edges somehow beckoning. For the first time in Bailey’s work, subject has become object.

The texts on each are taken from the account of the Pulitzer-winning American journalist, Marguerite Higgins (1920-66), of her experiences during the Korean War (1950-53). War in Korea: The Report of a Woman Combat Correspondent, (Doubleday & Co, Inc, New York, 1951) is a personal account of her experiences on the frontline of a bitter and expensive conflict now largely overlooked given its chronological niche between the Second World War and Vietnam. Much of her stark and lauded copy for The New York Tribune, and indeed the book, was written on a portable Hermes Baby typewriter: "I immediately got out my typewriter, put it on the front of the jeep, and typed furiously.... as I was typing the last part of the story, artillery began zeroing in."

Higgins’ reportage exposed, like others before and since, the myths of combat. For Hermes Baby, Bailey has excavated phrases and words from Higgins’ memoir, re-written them in the Baby Hermes font, shot and printed them on contemporaneous photographic stock paper to fashion a resonant and sculptural meditation on the “bruising truths” of war.

"Some how American leadership is going to have to impress on every potential GI that there are strong odds that he's going to have to fight some dirty battles to keep the vanilla-ice-cream kind of world he had been brought up in. Korea showed that we had fallen miserably short in indoctrinating the GIs. The United States, which may one day have a much more important war on its hands, should face this fact squarely. Otherwise it will continue to find its rank soldiers reluctant to fight. And we can no longer risk the loss of life that comes when you toss troops that are unprepared psychologically and physically into the kind of combat imposed by the Communists and their satellites."  Marguerite Higgins (1920-66)

All artwork and images © Veronica Bailey 2024.