Pennsylvania and New York: Maureen Cummins, 2019. Number 17 of 50 copies signed by the book artist. AlieNation / SepaRation was part of Swarthmore College’s Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary project. The project brought five artists into conversation with Syrian and Iraqi individuals resettled in Philadelphia. Cummins interviewed four participating families in 2018. The interviews captured the unspeakable losses experienced by the settlers and bore witness to their struggles to adjust to new countries, cultures, languages, and their separation from loved ones. From the interviews, Cummins selected forty-eight excerpts that she pieced together to create a narrative arc. To house the text, the artist created a structure that is visually startling, experimental, and conceptually driven. Text blocks are severed, then reprinted as quarto-sections on corresponding pages of four separate books. As in the case of the resettlers themselves, these stories must be reunited in order to be read, understood, and made whole again. Since the structure is two-sided, with half the pages printed upside down, the reader is forced to puzzle out where and how to begin and what order in which to read the pages. In this way (s)he is forced to experience some measure of the confusion, alienation, dislocation, and separation that resettlers struggle with every day. The books were created by first deeply saturating flats of color onto Arches Cover White. Blocks of text were then surprinted over the color fields, a process that required masterful registration. Bound by Lisa Hershey in the Coptic style structure that draws on Middle Eastern binding tradition. Each set of four books is housed in a handsome plexiglass slipcase and laser-etched titling by Sarah Pike. Maureen Cummins is a noted creator of artists' books. Her work is held in over one hundred permanent public collections internationally and has been included in exhibitions at the American Craft Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Rotunda Gallery (amongst others). She has received over a dozen grants and awards and has been an artist-in-residence at numerous venues, including the American Antiquarian Society and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. In fine condition. The set measures 17 x 17 x 2.5 inches and contains 192 pages. ARTISTSB/092319.
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