12.8 × 12.6 in
The University of the Witwatersrand, Wits Art Museum (WAM), Jack Ginsberg Centre for Book Arts
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
In his poem Ach, Robert Gernhardt uses direct and forthright language to describe a situation that everyone must eventually face: confrontation with death. The poem’s protagonist doesn’t seem quite prepared for his encounter with death, yet manages to face the Grim Reaper in an easy and even voluble way. Gernhardt employs colloquial terms and phrases to expose, in a paradoxically unpoetical-poetic way, the helplessness of the protagonist. At the poem’s close, the protagonist is condemned to the inescapable finality of the silence of death.
The text is underlaid with collages of Chinese hell money, valueless paper ‘money’ that is burned at funerals or at the annual commemoration day for the dead. In burning the money, it is offered to the dead for use in the afterlife, where they continue to use it. To lessen the intense colors of the hell money, it is pasted between two thin layers of Japanese mitsumata paper and printed partly with varnish. This process accentuates the portrait of Yan Luo, king of the netherworld, which is printed on every bill. Each page is enfolded in a banderole with Gernhardt’s text printed on it, reminding the reader of bundles of hell money. The cover is made of thick mitsumata cardboard and printed with a varnish pattern of rings, similar to those on the pages.
Text: Robert Gernhardt
Collage of Chinese hell money, pasted between two layers of thin mitsumata papers and printed with varnish. Letterpress print by zinc-clichés with pink fluorescent printing-ink on ganpi paper strips. Coptic binding into a mitsumata cardboard cover also printed with varnish. Light brown case made of GA File with printed title in pink and closed by a banderole of hell money. 32,5 cm x 32,0 cm. Edition of 25 Arabic and 5 Roman numbered copies. Tokyo, 2003.