Akedah: The Binding of Yitzhak

By Rick Black

Akedah: The Binding of Yitzhak is an artist book about the haunting Biblical story of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

It is a story about trauma. Of a father, mother, and son. Of a husband and wife. Of the divine presence and absence. Of words and silence. Of how language breaks down in traumatic moments.

One can experience this accordion book either intimately page by page or expanded fully over more than 50 feet.  So, people can experience the story not only by reading but by walking alongside it and placing themselves imaginatively in the roles of the characters.

Akedah: The Binding of Yitzhak aspires to capture the breakdown of language in the face of trauma. As the accordion book unfolds, letters and words become more fragmented and disjointed. The book functions on multiple levels. The text itself runs across spare mountains interspersed with commentary from Jewish and non-Jewish sources, including one quote on the story from a Bob Dylan song. In addition, a sub-text of silence is created through multiple blind embossments.

An edition of eight copies is available for libraries, museums and collectors.

Price: $6,000 for private collectors; $4,800 for institutions.

Please allow three to four weeks for assembly of this work.

For more details, please contact us.

Colophon Details

Each artist book consists of 36 pages and includes a small booklet with an artist’s statement, three dialogues between the artist and the story’s main characters, and credits.

Each page combines a digital collage of images and text, letterpressed tip-ons and blind embossments, words and letters in English and Hebrew, and reproductions of mountains originally handpainted on mulberry paper with sumi-e inks. Additional materials include a variety of cords and thread, botanicals, wood chips, and wax.

The typeface of the English translation is set in Pelican; the Hebrew is SBL Hebrew. The booklet is in Perpetua. The digital prints were made on an Epson SureColor P900 17-inch archival printer. The Hebrew and blind embossments were letterpressed at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Maryland on a Universal I Vandercook.

The handmade, deckled paper, which is a blend of abaca and cotton, was made by Twinrocker Handmade Paper in Brookston, Indiana. Additional papers come from India, Japan, Nepal, Mexico, and the United States. The booklet was printed on Aya White 125 g/m2 paper from Japan with an Amate Bark marbled cover from Mexico.

The wood covers were made out of naturally felled cedar and crafted by Material Things Studio in Maryland. Rick Black etched the covers and labels with a Glowforge Lasercutter in the shop of the Arlington, Virginia, Public Library, and bound the book with natural jute ribbon.

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