Collage, Hand-painting, Ink, Rubbing
9 × 9 × 3.75 in
Bainbridge Island Museum of Art
Herzog August Bibiothek
Broken Star is the title of two accordion fold, double-sided board books. The large version, which is featured in this listing (including all the images displayed) unfolds to 18 feet, the smaller version unfolds to 9 feet. Designed for both intimate reading as a codex with multiple possible page configurations, and for gallery exhibition in numerous forms, the penultimate mode of exhibition is for the book to be displayed in the shape of a 12-sided Jewish star and hung in the air.
The media is black and red compressed wax, Sumi ink, and turmeric pigment; this media forms the three colors associated with the various flags of a unified Germany since the revolutionary period of the 1840s (black, red, and gold).
The books’ contents are created from wax rubbings primarily taken from the Jewish Memorial in the small, yet culturally and historically important, North-central German town of Wolfenbüttel. This memorial was dedicated to the Jewish community of the town which was completely eradicated by the local Nazi government during the time period of World War Two. The rubbings are taken from metal plaques which form the Jewish Star-shaped base of the sculptural memorial and have the names of all the expelled Jews of Wolfenbüttel engraved in the metal plaques as well as a short history of the expulsion. Installed in 2006, this memorial was funded and designed by students from a private local youth art school, Rundum Kunst under the direction of the school’s artist/director Astrid Schecker-Loch.
Another rubbing source for the books is from assorted Stolpersteine (memorial stumbling stones) set into the streets of Wolfenbüttel in front of homes that Jews were removed from during the expulsion. The Stolpersteine are found throughout Europe and form a massive public sculpture (possibly Earth’s largest) by German artist Gunter Demnig (http://www.stolpersteine.eu/en/home/). The final rubbing source is taken from one of the local sewer covers which feature the equine coat of arms of the town.
A collaged sentence that refers to the Gaza strip in Palestine as a concentration camp is integrated into the books’ final pages of text, and correlates with the history of some of the expelled Jews from Wolfenbüttel who escaped Germany and ultimately immigrated to Palestine. Thus the entwined and tragic histories of all these people are integrated and re-memorialized in these mobile book sculptures which also provide a disturbing intersectional observation.
Broken Star was created as part of my 2019 Artists’ Book Prize residency at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. The first and smaller version of Broken Star now resides in the collection of the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel (part of the State Library of Lower Saxony). It was created completely in Wolfenbüttel and finished in the print studio of the Bundesakademie which is located in the Schloss Wolfenbüttel, a castle dating back to the 16th Century. The second larger version was completed in Crown Heights, Brooklyn during the Covid Virus lockdown of 2020 while the concept of suffocation throughout history (Nazi gas chambers, Eric Garner choked to death by an NYC cop, respiratory ventilators and the lack of them, the asthma epidemic in the Bronx) interminably reiterated itself in my mind. – Marshall Weber, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York City, May 20, 2020.
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