When you have something very important but really tough to tell the man in your life, wouldn’t it be great if you could just reach for a book that starts the conversation for you, that spares you from having to stammer and stumble through those awkward openings, a book that quickly but acceptably confronts the sore, tender spots, each one clearly captured in a few choice words?
Rather than leave those difficult thoughts unsaid—because they are too embarrassing, too muddled, too hard to put into a man’s language—imagine being able to check a key to the contents, turn to the appropriate page, give an open book to the man you love and ask, “Please read this for me.”
“WHAT IS IT?”
“JUST READ IT, PLEASE? PAGE SEVENTY-THREE. IT’S ONLY A FEW LINES.”
The germ of Amy Beecher’s first exhibition at Primetime is Neil Chesanow’s 1988 self-help book Please Read This for Me: How to Tell the Man You Love Things You Can’t Put into Words. Long out of print, Chesanow’s guide functions as both a manual and an intermediary for couples struggling to communicate, encouraging its female readers to share their feelings with their unresponsive husbands and boyfriends by guiding them to explanatory messages from its pages—magic words, in effect.
Beecher has rewritten Chesanow’s incantations, splicing them with other found texts. Re-presenting the whole as a series of signs, banners, and an audiobook, Beecher recaptures the some- times aggressive, sometimes aggrieved voice of the silent woman begging to be heard. In so doing, she asks what it is we’re afraid to ask of those we love and who love us, and how our mediums abet and disrupt our messages.
Also on view is a one hundred foot digital inkjet print, created in 2011 with the help of the Philadelphia Photo Art Center, and a limited edition poster featuring an interview between the artist and Chesanow from November of 2011.
Amy Beecher received her MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University in 2010. Up- coming exhibitions include PhiliGrafika at the Philadelphia Photo Art Center and Mostly Oral, a traveling exhibition of spoken performance. Her work can be seen at amybeecher.com.