Mourning Prayer

By Robbin Ami Silverberg
Brooklyn, New York: Dobbin Books, 2000. Edition of 20.

13 x 4"; 186 pages. Hand stamped text. Handmade Dobbin Mill papers. Signed and numbered by the artist.

The format & design replicates a ticketing booklet common in Central Europe. The translucent pages represent the 186 steps of the Staircase of Death at Mauthausen, the World War II concentration camp in Austria. Each of the pages is divided in three sections and stamped with hand-carved numbers and text. The monotony of the pagination and endless sequence of numbers acts as a mantra and compliment to the prayer, which is comprised of a series of similar sounding words that remind one of walking noises -- step, steep, stomp, stamp, stop, slip, slap, spit.

Dorota Biczel Nelson, "Sacred Texts/Contemporary Forms" Exhibit, Layton Gallery, Milwaukee School of Art and Design: "Robbin Ami Silverberg's Mourning Prayer is a practically wordless homage to the victims of Mauthausen concentration camp. In this book the material itself (hand-made paper) and rubber stamp numbers speak quietly to the horrors of granite 186-step 'Staircase of Death.'"

Robbin Silverberg, "Women of the Book": "At its best, I am a member of the 'People of the Book' ... of a long and rich history of learning and thinking. At its worst, I am a descendant of a misogynist patriarchal people ... one that I will repeatedly question and react against. Either way, it is a part of me and who I am. Many of my artist books have been identified as 'Jewish' in theme; at the same time, being Jewish is not central to my work ... being human is."