By Lynne Avadenka
Huntington Woods, Michigan: Land Marks Press, 2009. Edition of 8.
13 x 29.25 x 1.25"; 12 unnumbered leaves. Sheet size is 12" high x 28" wide. Created with woodcuts, photopolymer plate printing, and stencils. Letterpress printed with Centaur and Koren types on Yamada Hanga cream paper. Housed in a cloth-covered oblong clamshell box, which has a woodblock inset on its top.
The text, from the biblical book of Lamentations, is printed in Hebrew and English. The English translation is from the Jewish Publication Society. Each text page (5 in Hebrew, 5 in English) is accompanied by a color woodcut. The custom-made box includes an inset carved piece of wood from which prints were made.
Colophon: "Echoes, reverberations, multiplicities, repeats: the long narrow sheet - a scroll unrolled - like the original Book of Lamentations; prints from wood, the same material from which houses are built, with traces of home cut out: doors, windows, openings; orbits linked and overlapped, inked and overprinted, suggesting absence, presence, and interconnected lives."
Lynne Avadenka, essay: "The language of the lament envelops us with no less immediacy, and the keening that began in 586 BCE is clearly audible 2500 years later. The Book of Lamentations is powerfully graphic in its recounting of disaster and despair, a chronicle of losses after the siege and sacking of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Five short chapters capture in astonishing vividness the complete obliteration of an entire city and the subsequent exile of all its former inhabitants. As the voice of the narrator shifts from mother to man to nation, an abecedarium of atrocities and zealous decimation is laid bare. For most of the Book of Lamentations, the format is an alphabetic acrostic, perhaps meant to highlight the skill of the author, perhaps meant as an aid to those who memorized the text, or perhaps meant to illustrate the inexhaustible list of damages suffered by the people. It is thought, because of the intensity of the descriptions in the Book of Lamentations, that it was written shortly after the destruction occurred, and some believe the author was the prophet Jeremiah. Authorship is not nearly as important as the text itself, sober and clear-eyed in its documentation of the unspeakable. The Book of Lamentations is recited each year in late summer, in accordance with its Hebrew date, the 9th of Av. In fact, it is not read, but sung, in a particular minor tune, echoing and evoking the tragedy of the text. We sit on the floor as the text is sung; we mourn destruction, and mourners sit low. In Lamentations, we hear the voices of the powerless, the ones overwhelmed and overrun by those in control. What perplexes the people is that they are given no reason for this calamity. They wonder: what was our sin, what did we do wrong, why do we deserve this? And the text offers no answers to these difficult questions. Lamentations is at once specific, and, unfortunately, universal. A story from antiquity and of modern times. A city, once full of people, is destroyed and emptied, putting into motion a cycle of exile, displacement and disruption. If home is not a physical place, it is family. If a family is destroyed, where is home? And who will gather all the exiles, who will remember them, renew them, take them back, as in days of old, as before?"
$4,500 (Last copy)