Review by Douglas Stockdale •
The tide comes in, the tide goes out
We are on this earth temporarily
And then, we are no more.
Only the sirens, muses and heroes remain in liminal space.
How does one elegize a dear friend? What might one write about a fellow writer? What could be the possible images that reflect that person’s life and their subsequent passing? This is the raison d’être for Ewa Monika Zebrowski’s artist book now & beyond dedicated to the passing of her friend, James Douglas Campbell.
Zebrowski provides us with a series of liminal spaces where we might find the spirit of Campbell present in the context of her extensive Lexicon of Remembrance. Sprinkled through her artist book we find her lexicon in conjunction with an equivalence; limbo, evocation, spolia, bloom, sentinel, reverie, offering, metaphysical, abode, pungent, threshold, and liminal. The light pastel text is quiet, contemplative and reserved.
Both writers had a mutual respect, as Campbell, both an art writer and curator, stated of Zebrowski’s artist books as an “artist who has made a number of remarkable and talismanic artist’s books over the last 15 years. Her liminal and charged language in (her) poem entitled We Don’t Know and its cascading lines dovetail beautifully, hauntingly, luminally, with Zebrowski’s dreamlike images.”
While we usually think of Alfred Stieglitz as it relates to his ‘equivalence’ in photographs as potential metaphors, I think of Minor White as someone who provided more insight to the potentials that Zebrowski explores in her book.
In literature this-specific feeling associated with Equivalence is called “poetic,” using this word in a very broad and universal sense. Not having an exact equivalent for the word “poetic” in photography we will suggest the word “vision,” meaning not only sight, but insight. The effect that seems to be associated with Equivalence may be worded thus: When both subject matter and manner of rendering are transcended, by whatever means, that which seems to be matter becomes what seems to be spirit.” (Minor White, 1963)
Zebrowski provides both poetic writing and images to investigate the spirit of Campbell. Her brief eulogy faces a photograph of an expansive Mediterranean Sea with a diminutive vessel in transit, a wonderful visual equivalence to Greek mythology that in death, one passes on a journey down the river Styx to the underworld. We could think of this small craft representing the ferryman of the dead, now in transit. Likewise, in mythology an individual has not had a permanent death, but continues to live on, which in this case occurs by means of Campbell’s written word that represents his afterlife.
The accompanying equivalent photographs investigate liminal spaces, usually devoid of any individuals; an urban passage way, a walkway, the intersection of water and land, a lookout point or an expanse of sea. There is one photograph of an individual who appears suspended in a sea of blue, arms extended, in conjunction with a rocky foreground; a combination of peace and uneasiness, both states of mind that may momentarily coexist while dealing with current events.
As to the artist book’s title, now and beyond, she appears to be attempting to deal with the current moment while contemplating the great ‘Beyond’. This is an event that many of us have to deal with at one time or another, especially considering that Campbell’s passing is at the same age of my own father’s passing. Thus, the wonderful nature of an artist book is that it might be a eulogy for a specific individual, while using equivalent photographs, it may help many others to relate to similar events.
An artist book that utilizes a leporello (accordion) design is a wonderful vehicle to represent a series of unfolding feelings and memories. One-page flows almost immediately into the next, similar to a train of thought. Likewise, due to its lack of structure, it can also spill out into a messy array of pages, to become a jumble of thoughts and feelings. Cascading memories that rapidly flow without reason into an unstructured pile.
An evocative and mediative artist book combing poetry with poetic images.
Ewa Monika Zebrowski has been featured previously in PhotoBook Journal: van gogh’s bed
Douglas Stockdale is an artist and Senior Editor of PhotoBook Journal
now & beyond, Ewa Monika Zebrowski
Photographer/Artist/Poet; Ewa Zebrowski, born London, England and resides in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Self-published, Outremont, Quebec, Canada copyright 2022
Poems & statements: Ewa Monika Zebrowski
Stiff covers with slipcase, leporello (accordion) bound, blank verso, edition of 20, print and bound by Datz Books, South Korea
Artist Book Design: Ewa Monika Zebrowski & Francine Savard
Articles and photographs published in the PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s). All images, texts, and designs are copyright of the authors and publishers.