Sunt Lacrimae Rerum

Paper and acrylic box. 3″x3″x3″. Edition of 13 (2013).
3” x 3” x 3”
Paper and acrylic box

Created for “An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street” in homage to and in mourning for the street of booksellers, this book takes its title from Aeneas’s words of sorrow uttered before a Carthaginian mural depicting the Trojan War. Tragedy must be brought home to us, but how can we relay the depths of loss—a very idea predicated on absence? This reliquary is part lachrymatory: it contains a book whose text of tears is designed to tear away at itself each time the book is displayed. Pleated into an accordion, it plays the elegy for its own effacement as, gradually, the cut-out letters catch on one another, pulling themselves up and off the page until they may fall away entirely.

Not only is the book’s texture designed to transform, its text does as well: page by page, one letter of the phrase changes at each turn. Although “these are the tears of things,” over time we might enter a space “where all the tears embraced.”This book  has been exhibited at the Wiener Library for the Holocaust and Genocide in London; the Mosaic Rooms gallery in London, the Chappell Center for Book Arts in Portland, Maine; and the Center for Book Arts in New York City, along with other contributions to “An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street.” A complete list of exhibitions is available at the coalition website.

In 2014, the book was included in the exhibition “Book Power Redux” at 23Sandy Gallery in Portland, Oregon and the University of Puget Sound‘s Collins Memorial Library. Curator and book artist Laura Russell was interviewed by Joseph Gallivan of KBOO about the show on June 10, 2014.

Copies of Sunt Lacrimae Rerum are held in the libraries of George Mason University, the Virginia Institute of Technology, Baylor University, The Cleveland Institute of Art, UC San Diego, and the New York Public Library.