Research Guides

Artists' Books


Ediciones Vigía


Detalle interior de «Ana Mendieta», 2004. Texto de Nancy Morejón, diseño, dibujos y caligrafía de Rolando Estévez Jordán, traducción de Linda Howe. Ediciones Vigía. Photography by Rosa Lowinger https://cubanartnews.org/es/2018/11/21/la-mujer-tras-el-archivo-cubano/
 
Introduction
Established in 1985 by two poets and working with an ever-expanding team of collaborators and makers, Ediciones Vigía occupies a space at the zenith of Cuban book arts. To hold one in your hands and to read and interact with it reveals far more than its materiality and craft. The Cuban Heritage Collection is proud to have collected more than five hundred rich, handmade Vigía examples and it is considered the largest held collection anywhere. Our Vigías are popular, we have exhibited them in many forms, we teach with them, we have had events and discussions about them, and have hosted a workshop with the founders. Each example is handmade, through teamwork and artists, writers, and cultural figures, both from Cuba and Internationally are invited to work on specific Vigía editions, making them highly prized and truly unique. We invite you to learn more about our collection and this ever-popular and expanding press.
El quinqué
The publishing house was founded in 1985 by Rolando Estévez and Alfredo Zaldívar as a creative literary forum, named after the Plaza Vigía where the press is located in Matanzas, Cuba. Emblazoned somewhere on each of the books is “el quinqué,” an oil lamp that inspires both the pursuit of the house as a source of light and inspires the exhibition’s title with respect to revealing, with greater lucidity, the many ways to explore the theme of women in this collection. So too, the examples presented here reveal Cuba’s different cultural moments in Ediciones Vigía’s more than 30 year existence.


Collaborative work
Vigía's artists and authors have orchestrated a cornucopia of textual and tactile devices and each edition consists of two hundred hand-made examples. Along with paper, there are a surprising array of materials incorporated into the bookmaking; tipped in mimeographed images and text are elevated with meticulously hand-painted details, photographs, line drawings, and découpage. Scrolls are untied, boxes are unlatched, and fans are unfurled revealing colorful and convivial Vigías with character, creating delicate things that beautifully play with the notion of the artbook. Despite their painstaking construction and seeming fragility, the collection is designed to be handled, their whimsical components discovered, and ultimately to be "read" in multiple ways.
Open Access Articles
Cuban Book Art: Ediciones Vigía and the Beauty of the Everyday: A 2016 essay from the online magazine Hyperallergic by Margaret Randall on the history and cultural significance of Ediciónes Vigía. 
Recently Published
Handmade in Cuba: Rolando Estévez and the Beautiful Books Of Ediciones Vigía. Edited By Ruth Behar, Juanamaría Cordones-Cook, And Kristin Schwain, Florida University Press, June 2020 
Online Periodical articles
Ediciones Vigía: El arte posible con lo que otros desechanVentura de Jesus. Granma, March, 2020. An interview with creator and director, Agustina Ponce Valdés, at the annual Book Fair in Matanzas.
 
Wrapping words in scraps of beauty Exhibit: Cuban artists and writers have collaborated to burst the borders of what defines a book, creating art to read. Cavanaugh, Joanne. Baltimore Sun, 1998. 

Mar Mediante 2
University, Library and Museum Collections
The following libraries have curated collections of Ediciones Vigía books. Click on the image of the collection's website below to visit the page.
University of South Florida
University of South Florida
University of Connecticut Libraries
University of Connecticut Libraries
Princeton University Library
Princeton University Library
Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame
Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress
University of Missouri
University of Missouri
University of Michigan
University of Michigan
Ediciones Vigía Social Media
Web Pages
EcuRed: Ediciones Vigía
Digital encyclopedia entry on the history, origins, activities, and legacy of Ediciones Vigía.
 
KC Studio: Ediciones Vigia: Handmade Cuban Books
Publication by arts journal based in Kansas City, discusses some of the central figures of Ediciones Vigía and details about the unique books. 

William & Mary Library: Get to Know Cuban Artists' Books with Ediciones Vigía 
Short introduction by Ann Cooper to the William & Mary Libraries Special Collections holding of Ediciones Vigía.

The Center for Cuban Studies: Ediciones Vigía Publishing House in Matanzas, Cuba
Center for Cuban Studies page lists Ediciones Vigía books for sale.
 
Ruth Behar Handmade Cuban Books
Digital collections of works made by artist Ruth Behar made for Ediciones Vigía after her travel to Cuba and subsequent meeting Rolando Estévez.
 
Past and Present Exhibitions
The Minnesota Center for Book Arts: Wrapped Words: Handmade Books from Cuba’s Ediciones Vigía, April 20 – May 31, 2002
 
Vanderbilt University Jean and Alexander Heard Library: Found in Cuba: The Ingenuity and Creativity of Ediciones Vigía January 20, 2020-February 27, 2020

Rolando Estévez Jordán El Fortín 
Blogs, posts and essays on Ediciones Vigía and its founders
Printmaking Art + Aine Scannell's Blog
This blog references Rolando Estévez Jordan and his artworks. 

Missourian: Art Talk
2015 Interview with Cuban artist Rolando Estévez Jordan at Bingham Gallery.

Arte X Excelencias 
Cuba’s Book Institute has announced its 2010 National Book Design Prize goes to plastic artist Rolando Estévez Jordan. Mr. Estévez will receive the award on Feb. 13, 2011 within the framework of the 20th Havana International Book Fair.

Afrocuba.org: Curriculum
Timeline, awards, performances and publication history of artist Rolando Estévez Jordan.

The Ya'lla Blog
Recommendations and introduction to Ediciones Vigía, a collective publishing house in the provincial town of Matanzas, Cuba, about a 90 minute drive east of Havana.

THIS&THAT Blog: A Book Bindery in Cuba—Ediciones Vigia 
Information about the materials and processes used to create the books of Ediciones Vigía.
Un libro único de Estévez / A One-of-a-Kind Book by Estevéz
La Habana expuesta, un diseño de Estévez / Havana on Display, a Design by Estévez
Ediciones Vigía: Poéticas visuales / Visual Poetics
A Light on Cuba: Through the Library of Congress Ediciones Vigía Collection
Transcript and LOC Site
Transcript of A Light on Cuba: Through the Library of Congress Ediciones Vigía Collection 
Link to LOC Site of A Light on Cuba: Through the Library of Congress Ediciones Vigía Collection
DVDs about Vigía available at Richter Library
Cordones-Cook, Juanamaría, Nancy Morejón, Marta Valdés, Adelaida De Juan, Ruth Behar, Rolando Estévez Jordán, Urbano Martínez, Alfredo Zaldívar, Mizzou Advantage, and University of Missouri. Curators. Ediciones Vigía: Poéticas Visuales = (visual Poetics). Columbia, Mo.]: Mizzou Advantage: Curators of the U of Missouri, 2012.

Cordones-Cook, Juanamaría, Rolando Estévez Jordán, and University of Missouri. Curators. Vigía: Entre La Palabra Y La Imagen = between the Word and the Image. Columbia, Mo.]: Mizzou Advantage ; Curators of the U of Missouri, 2012.

Cordones-Cook, Juanamaría, Erik Delgado, Fermín Domínguez, Rolando Estévez Jordán, and University of Missouri. Curators. Ediciones Vigía 1985-2011: Abriendo Archivos = Opening Archives. Columbia, Mo.]: Mizzou Advantage ; Curators of the U of Missouri, 2012. 

Cordones-Cook, Juanamaría, María De Los Ángeles Núñez Jauma, Santiago Rodríguez Olazábal, Yolanda Wood, Gretchen Lima Molina, Hilda María Rodríguez, Luis Miret, Alina Ramírez Moro, and AfroCubaWeb.com, Publisher. Olazábal: Un Hacedor De Objetos. Cuba : Matanzas, 2015: AfroCubaWeb.com, 2018. 
UC Berkeley Library: Cartón from Cuba
To collect or not to collect-The Creations from the Cartón, Jan. 2018

This article posted by UC Berkeley Library features images of handmade books from Cuban including from Ediciones Vigía.
Interview with Aisnara Perera Díaz
Introduction to the Exhibition
Illuminating Women is an exploration of gender through textual and artistic representations and narratives by the Cuban artist book collective Ediciones Vigía. We have delved into the more than five hundred rich, handmade Vigía examples at the Cuban Heritage Collection, considered the largest held anywhere, to explore female subjectivity in the covers and pages of these creative works in concert with historical, cultural, artistic, and literary ways of knowing. Ediciones Vigía occupies a space at the zenith of Cuban book arts and those displayed here reveal far more than their materiality and craft. The publishing house was founded in 1985 by Rolando Estévez and Alfredo Zaldívar as a creative literary forum, named after the Plaza Vigía where the press is located in Matanzas, Cuba. Emblazoned somewhere on each of the books is “el quinqué,” an oil lamp that inspires both the pursuit of the house as a source of light and inspires the exhibition’s title with respect to revealing, with greater lucidity, the many ways to explore the theme of women in this collection. So too, the examples presented here reveal Cuba’s different cultural moments in Ediciones Vigía’s more than 30 year existence. The Vigías on view signal substantive themes pertinent to broader discussions in women’s studies, tropes, notions of power, and the complexities of inhabiting and representing multiple forms and ideas of both the maker(s) and the subjects. The exhibition is further inspired and arranged according to distinct curatorial facets: creativity and ingenuity in Cuba’s post-Soviet era, known as the Special Period; transnational collaborations; representations of the feminine ideal; and the intersectional approaches to understanding gender. Vigía's artists and authors have orchestrated a cornucopia of textual and tactile devices and each edition consists of two hundred hand-made examples. Along with paper, there are a surprising array of materials incorporated into the bookmaking; tipped in mimeographed images and text are elevated with meticulous hand-painted details, photographs, line drawings, and découpage. Scrolls are untied, boxes are unlatched, and fans are unfurled revealing colorful and convivial Vigías with character, creating delicate things that beautifully play with the notion of the art book. Despite their painstaking construction and seeming fragility, the collection is designed to be handled, their whimsical components discovered, and ultimately to be "read" in multiple ways.
Illuminating Women Exhibition at the CHC
In 2019, the CHC held an exhibition, Illuminating Women: Representations and Narratives from Ediciones Vigía, which was an exploration of gender through textual and artistic representations and narratives by the Cuban artist book collective. The CHC team delved into the more than five hundred rich, handmade Vigía examples to explore female subjectivity in the covers and pages of these creative works in concert with historical, cultural, artistic, and literary ways of knowing. This page is a snapshot of some of that exhibition and the accompanying event - a discussion by experts on a panel titled "Illuminating the Archives: Art and Artists' Books in Context,"  

View the exhibition guide

Photograph showing three of the founders of the Cuban Heritage Collection Esperanza Bravo de Varona, Gladys Gomez Rossie, and Lesbia de Varona in front of the Illuminating Women exhibition.
Panel Discussion: Illuminating the Archives: Art and Artists' Books in Context
ON May 9th, 2019 the CHC invited an archivist, a curator, and two scholars to discuss their perspectives on these artists' books, archives, and scholarly representations. The panel were invited to explore and respond to the questions: What is the role of art in a scholarly archive? What research value do materials that support artistic practice play in this context? The evening was presented in conjunction with the exhibition, Illuminating Women, and artists' books, photographs, drawings, letters, and other materials related to the visual arts were the focus of the lively presentations and discussions.

This event was co-sponsored by Florida International University's Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC).
 

 
About the Panel:

Cristina Favretto, Moderator
Head, Special Collections, University of Miami Libraries

Tracy Bonfitto, Ph.D.
Curator of Art, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin

Josh T. Franco, Ph.D.
National Collector, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Linda Howe, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Wake Forest University

Donna Aza Weir-Soley, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Florida International University
 

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