Solomon’s Wisdom

Solomon’s Wisdom: A Fable, A Poem, A Eulogy, A Dream, Ten Nests and Eight Holes, 2011 / Varied edition of 5 / Archival inkjet printing on Dobbin Mill papers, stainless steel staples

Size: 13.5” x 11” x 1”

The starting point for this book was the eulogy I wrote for my mother, which is here ripped apart and stapled together again, resulting in gaping holes. The book presents three other texts in sequential fragments: A synopsis of the Judgment of Solomon fable, excerpts from Pablo Neruda’s poem, The Word, and a dream sequence, all interspersed with photographs of birds nests. These four texts are printed on papers that vary in weight and translucency, which heightens the fragmentation of the choreography of the read and creates a new rhythm of page-turning, the physical act of reading. It is an homage to both motherhood and to the wisdom that the sum of parts can never equal the whole.

Additional thoughts:

Although I tried to put the page and text back together that contained the eulogies, it was impossible: the slight overlaps I needed to staple the numerous pieces together caused sufficient displacement, to leave a gaping hole.  -- Eight gaping holes in the eight segments of the eulogy. This physical manifestation of the act of destruction and creation is essentially the theme of this book: a manifestation of the limitation of language, in this case to sum up a person’s life, as it is a nod to the wisdom that the sum of parts can never equal the whole.

The other 3 texts were carefully chosen for their symbolic meaning: the Judgment of Solomon fable, where the king resolves a fight between two mothers by proposing to rip the child in two (here again the sum of two parts of a baby does not equal a child) and it highlights what it means to be a mother; excerpts from the poem, “The Word” by Pablo Neruda, where he defines the birth of life as the birth of the word (something I tend to disagree with but in its fragmentary state it is transcendent writing); a text fragment based on an actual dream I had the night my mother died, in which she leaves me on a bus and dances away. --Along with a set of rendered and filigree-cut photographs of birds nests. The nests represent maternal protections, and not coincidentally, they look similar to the stapled together language on the eulogy pages).

All texts & images presented are both fragmented and incomplete.

PAPER: Finally, a comment on the paper choice, as I design the paper for each artist book to amplify its ideas: The eulogy is printed on paper that was pulp-painted to feel like clots of earth, suggestive of being at the grave-side. The other texts & the nests are on two different sorts of thin translucent sheets: the choices of these papers were made to create different rates of reading: because it appears to be delicate, the reader to slow down, and are in contrast to the real weight of the stainless steel stapled eulogy sheet, which turns clumsily.  These considerations alter the usual choreography of the read, so the reader becomes more aware of the different parts and layers.