An Alphabetic Exploration
By Lynne Avadenka in collaboration with Mohamed Zakariya
2001. Edition of 30.
9.75 x 12”; extends to 77”. Letterpress on Gampi Torinoko and Hanga-shi papers. The selected words were hand lettered then transferred to photopolymer plates. Image pages were hand drawn then printed using a combination of letterpress (polymer plates) and lithography. Text pages are Trajan and Garamond from polymer plates. Image and text pages are printed then mounted on boards that form two-sided, continuous concertina binding. Spreads containing the Arabic and Hebrew words are two-layer folios pamphlet stitched into the concertina. These pages are backed by brief, relevant quotes from many sources. Housed in portfolio box covered in pale blue silk cloth with inset cover image. Inner box is lined in pale blue paper with title and colophon pages mounted inside.
A timely, sensitive and considered exploration of the Arabic and Hebrew languages through seven words whose meanings are the same and whose pronunciations are very close in both tongues. The introductory text asserts: "Because they share ancient origins, these languages echo one another. Possessing similar sounds, familiar shapes, overlapping and borrowed meanings, both languages are simultaneously ancient and modern. So much alike, yet over centuries, their common origins have been overshadowed by painful divisions."
The words for language, human being, trust, student, book, wisdom and sky are calligraphically rendered by the artists and framed by Avadenka's images, which were inspired by the combined beauty of Hebrew and Arabic letterforms. The seven words are also flanked by collaboratively written, eloquent and informative texts that traces the development of the two languages from their shared beginnings to their modern forms. Zakariya was responsible for the Islamic calligraphy and source material for the history of the Arabic languages. The Arabic words are lettered in the New Kufic style. Avadenka's research focused on the history of the Hebrew Alphabet and Hebrew calligraphy. The Hebrew is lettered in a style inspired by Sofer Stam and used in writing sacred documents.
An elegant, thoughtfully composed contemplation.