September 10 – November 1, 2009
Reception Sept. 16
August 30, 2009 (Winchester, MA) With paper a rare and expensive commodity in the 19th century, books’ endpapers were often used as note pads to practice spelling, jot down lists, and record purchases.
As a girl, Zeva Oelbaum was fascinated with the Hebrew books in her family’s basement and the scribbles and markings she found in the endpapers.
Years later, as a photographer interested in found objects, she revisited her childhood preoccupation. Manipulating imagery from her family’s books and others from the Jewish community, she created a body of work that transforms markings in several languages – Latin, Russian, German, Polish, Aramaic, and Yiddish — into a coherent visual story.
Her series of photographs, Hand to Hand, is featured in the Atelier Gallery of the Griffin Museum September 10 through November 1. An opening reception is September 16. The exhibit is courtesy of the Hirschl + Adler Modern, NY.
“These orphaned tomes connected me to a time and place far beyond my Missouri upbringing,’’ Oelbaum says of her family’s books. “I imagined how they had traveled from hand to hand for centuries, like portable identities.’’
The photographs, which are toned gelatin silver prints, are intended to give the viewer a sense of scanning over a page; some are presented as diptychs and some as triptychs.
Oelbaum’s aim is to immortalize the inherent lyricism in a word, a scribble, and an inkblot. Composed of positive and negative images, the photographs can also be viewed as metaphors for life and death.
A New York-based photographer, Oelbaum has work included in numerous private and public collections, including the Museum of the City of New York, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Jewish Heritage, National Museum of the American Indian, and the Polaroid Collection, as well as the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.
She graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, in 1977 with a degree in anthropology. She teaches at the International Center of Photography in New York and is the author of two books on photography.
Courtesy of Hirschl + Adler Modern NY