(Social Justice)

Geniza.

Silverberg, Robbin Ami (illus.)

NY: Robbin Ami Silverberg, 2021. Four volumes. One of a variable edition of twelve copies, signed by the artist. Silverberg's assemblage contends with religion, sacrifice, humanity, and language, explicating these profound concepts with careful craftsmanship and attention to the necessary experience of the reader. She freights the work with both communal and political meaning: the Jewish ritual burial of the tetragrammaton (the name of God), children killed in Gaza the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the call to "Say our/their/her name" that has been the klaxon of many recent protest movements.

The first volume, "Geniza," explains the Geniza concept in letterpress on handmade paper decorated to mimic a lined notebook sheet. The page is itself literally buried among other papers, and the effect is doubled by a page in Hebrew pulped into one of the rear sheets, and redoubled by a carbon copy transfer housed against the rear board. The second volume, "GOD," presents the names of gods in multiple religions watermarked into translucent paper, rendering them thus obscure and effacing all linguistic and conceptual differences between them. The names and their associated religions are handwritten in the separate colophon booklet. The third volume, "Say My Name," contemporizes the Geniza tradition; Silverberg observes that the practice of Geniza affords God, in name, the same sacredness of proper burial as that given to humans, and then asserts that the reverse should also hold true, that the holiness and dignity with which we regard the name of God (or gods) should be extended to fellow humans. The cards held in this book can be rearranged to fit a range of pronouns. In the fourth volume, "Shemot = Names," Silverberg carries out her own edict and lays out in the format of an accounting book names and ages of children murdered in the ongoing conflict in Gaza, mirroring the conceit of the volume, "GOD."

Also included in the assemblage is a Thasos marble stone in a bag sewn from a wool blanket. The stone symbolizes both the Jewish cemetery and the icon of the projectile in protest. This final object's inclusion invites the reader to participate in both events: the act of remembrance and burial, and the act of justice in the face of oppression.

A supplementary booklet, which Silverberg added to the assemblage in 2024 in answer to the devastating conflicts in Ukraine and Palestine, bears the poem "Each of Us Has a Name" by the Ukrainian poet Zelda. Silverberg contextualizes the booklet at the colophon, which also bears her signature and the statement, "This is my Geniza: to the unnamed children harmed by war."

All objects housed in dropback box. Fine. Item #32497

Price: $2,750.00

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