Caren Florance is a Canberra-based artist who makes print- and book-related work, often under the imprint of Ampersand Duck. She has degrees in English Literature and Visual Arts. She teaches book arts and typography and is a freelance designer. This project is part of her doctoral studies at the University of Canberra. Her work is collected nationally and internationally, mostly by libraries.
Poet Melinda Smith and artist Caren Florance are back with another excursion into the linguistic and visual pleasures of found text, a joint practice which brought us 2017’s Members Only. With this book, Listen, bitch, they turn their attention to misogynist language, working with a corpus of several decades’ worth of statements by powerful Australian public figures (and other blokes with big platforms). By listening very closely to the snarlings of what Kate Manne calls the law enforcement branch of the patriarchy, these poems attempt to map the lines women are still not supposed to cross in contemporary Australia, and to document the consequences suffered when they do. The results are sometimes harrowing, sometimes ridiculous, and always thought-provoking.
1962. Menzies was in power, Whitlam was deputy Opposition Leader, and the cold war was in full swing. Canberra was steadily transforming froma town in a paddock to a city with a lake. This is a year in the life of the building that held all the action: Old Parliament House. One of the outcomes of a collaborative project between poet Melinda Smith and artist Caren Florance, this poetic work is an exercise in re-voicing the past and placing it in conversation with the present.
In 2015 poet Angela Gardner was invited to the print studio of artist Caren Florance to set some blocks of ‘random’ text using metal letterpress type. As a separate creative work, ‘The Future, Un-imagine’ was taking form in Gardner’s mind; there was also ambient sound in the studio, a radio playing and wide-ranging conversation taking place between the two as Gardner set the type. Her seven ‘key’ textblocks were then print-performed by Florance for over a year to produce multiple readings and visual patterns, reflecting the structured chaos that Gardner uses in her writing practice. The artist book that emerged, Working Papers, is impossible to reproduce ‘accurately’ without losing many of its material properties; this chapbook is an opportunity to remix some of its pages to form new arrangements around Gardner’s resolved poem. The result is an augmented presentation of the poem and a companion to the limited edition artist book.