Last summer, as part of the growing Cuban book arts and poster collections, Special Collections acquired a number of handmade books from Ediciones Vigía, an artist collective and publishing house in Matanzas, Cuba. Cuban poet Alfredo Zaldívar and designer Rolando Estévez cofounded Ediciones Vigía in 1985. Orginially, it was a meeting place for the artists and writers of the culturally rich coastal city of Matanzas, which is about an hour and a half East of Havana. It has since evolved into an independent publishing house that features the works of Cuban poets like Dulce María Loynaz and Cintio Vitier, as well as international writers like Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges.
The books published by Ediciones Vigía use simple materials to achieve complex construction and presentation. Many of the books put together by the collective utilize inventive methods of presentation such as inserts, pockets, pop ups, and overlapping flaps. Their handmade books are published in limited runs of 200 copies and created using repurposed materials.
Special Collections has an issue of La Revista del Vigía, Loló Soldevilla (Año 22 No. 32) that features a variety of materials and textures including burlap, fabric, corrugated cardboard, brown craft paper, bristol board, sawdust, and wooden cross sections. Some pages have acrylic paintings on photocopies to accompany texts, and scattered throughout the issue are numbered works by printmakers. Together, these elements show masterful craftsmanship and a commitment to creating beautiful books. The care and creativity behind each book are what creates the unique aesthetic of an Ediciones Vigía publication.
Issues published by Ediciones Vigía are exemplary pieces of modern book arts and copies can be found here in the Special Collections Research Center, the British National Library, the Museum of Modern Art, the United States Library of Congress, and other university libraries.
– Contributed by , Daniil Eliseev, Student Assistant
Want to learn more about Ediciones Vigía? Check out this blog post from Princeton’s Graphic Arts blog and María Eugenia Alegría, Rolando Estévez, and Alfredo Zaldívar’s 1994 article in Michigan Quarterly Review.
Kim Nochi, “Ediciones Vigía: An Introduction,” updated November 11, 2014, http://vigia.missouri.edu/intro-essays/ediciones-intro.shtml.
British Library, “Ediciones Vigía,” Text, Help for Researchers: Ediciones Vigía, (Undated), http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/findhelplang/spanish/hispcoll/hispexhibl/edicionesvigoia/edex.html and Library of Congress, “Selected Special Collections: The Ediciones Vigia Collection, Contemporary Cuban Book Art,” Rare Book & Special Collections Reading Room, October 13, 2015, http://www.loc.gov/rr/rarebook/coll/vigia.html.
Ruth Behar, “Works in Handmade Cuban Books,” Ruth Behar, 2015, http://www.ruthbehar.com/HandmadeBooks.htm.