EFEMERA celebrates the launch of its first fine art-word publication with the release of TRANSFIGURATION: into the light. TRANSFIGURATION tells the story of a little girl named Maria - a survivor of the 1932 - 1933 famine in Ukraine.
EFEMERA books and folios will include written works by esteemed authors and academics, and astutely curated art. Each unique work is presented with elegance and an affinity for a blend of new and ancient artistic traditions. This is our gesture – our contribution to the art of photography.
TRANSFIGURATION memorializes the victims of the Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933 - Holodomor - an event widely thought to be genocidal. At its center is a single vernacular image of a young girl who survived. As many as four million, or more, did not.
The book presents Maruschak’s intellectual and emotional response, informed by current research and the stories shared by survivors in the Ukrainian Canadian community the artist grew up in.
The project utilizes three kinds of images. A fictional album of Maria’s life offers an illusionary sense of order while pointing to the impending horror. Lead-like images derived from a laborious process and the use of ash, pigments, parchment, wax and felt express the feeling of starvation – the body transformed into skin and bone - the spirit destroyed. An abstract representation of the ancient Salamis counting tool, explores Maruschak’s inability to grasp the conscious eradication of human life on such massive scales.
TRANSFIGURATION is more than a prosthetic memory of a modern-day atrocity or a memorial space - it is a cautionary tale to be heeded.
Maruschak comes to photography from the world of art, specifically Byzantine iconography. Her works, each unique and hand-painted with egg tempera and pigments, are metaphorical markers of a pathway to a place beyond. She proposes a visceral and tactile manner of exploring the world and our relationships with each other through repetition and rhythm. By using an algorithm designed in her digital lab, as a counterpart to the ancient techniques, Maruschak invites us to examine perplexing man-made tragedies which repeat themselves over and over again.
ALISON NORDSTRÖM Essay
In her essay “From Ashes” Alison Nordström notes: “The pictures she makes, finds, organizes, and embellishes, are thus powered both by a need to know and by the impossibility of knowing, and both elements become what the pictures are about. Maruschak transcends the absence of statistical fact by asserting the higher truths of selfhood, identity and artistic expression with images that are intentionally ambiguous, mysterious and abstruse. Both the documentary base and the artist’s transfiguration of it are true, and both are fictions.”
SABINE TANOVIĆ Essay
In her essay “Interspersed Memory” Sabine Tanović notes: “The work creates an immaterial transitional space - a space of elucidated experience for the viewers. It is a powerful medium that creates considerable potential for learning through experience. It is a space that exists around historical memory evoked and its purpose is to encourage the feeling of connection between two realities, personal (both ours and the one of the artist) and factual.”
The publication is accompanied by the poem “EYEBROWS” by Lyuba Yakimchuk, translated by Svetlana Lavochkina, from Words for War, edited by Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky. © Borderline Foundation for Academic Studies, 2017. © Academic Studies Press, 2017. Reprinted with permission.
The cover is ornamented with an image presented in the tradition of the Byzantine icon entitled “Dochka”. The image of Maria F. was obtained from a private collection with permission granted to the artist to use and alter.
The icon was rendered using an algorithm created for this series. It was overpainted with egg tempera, ash and pigments; hand-brushed with wax and damar resin. Manetti 19 KT Caplain gold leaf was applied on the wings. It is gilded with multiple layers of 19 kt Manetti Caplain Gold Leaf, hand-painted with egg tempera, pigments and wax on Hahnemühle Museum Etching Paper and set into the debossed cover panel.
21st century printing and 4th century painting are integrated to present a suite of 27 color plates.
Each image has been meticulously hand-printed by Maruschak on Awagami Kitakata Paper and overpainted with egg tempera, pigments, wax and resin. Some images have been treated to Manetti 19KT Caplain Gold Lear.
The result is the unique harmony or painting, gilding and photography.
The book is further illustrated with 2 untitled images by Alexander Wienerberger from the Samara Pearce Archives. Copyright holder Samara Pearce granted Maruschak permission to use and rework the images. Each was tinted with tea post digital processing.
Each work has been individually hand tipped onto Somerset Book Wove Paper.
The text for the poem has been composed in lead on the Intertype model C4 in Linotype Eldorado, a rare, exquisite typeface designed in 1950 by the legendary William Addison Dwiggins.
The lead forms were printed letterpress by hand on the Vandercook Universal III on Somerset Book Wove Paper, a 100% rag paper made at the St. Cuthbert Mill in England.
The goat suede end papers were hand-stained by the artist using a custom pigment/wax paste to harmonize with the cover book cloth.
The interior black art paper dividing the Damnation and Vyshyvanka images was made to the artist’s specifications at the at the Papeterie Saint-Armand in Montreal. Archival linen textiles made on handlooms in Soviet Ukraine during the 1920s-1930s were beaten by hand and incorporated into pulp to create the paper.
The book measures 10 x 9 3/4 inches; 64 printed pages.
The edition has been hand bound in full cloth in Japanese blue and gold mohair Asahi book cloth.
The cover is ornamented with an icon printed on Hahnemühle Museum Etching Paper and set into the debossed cover panel.
The interior panels of the book are lined with traditional paper from North India made from sunn hemp fibre. Handmade on a chapri, a grass stem screen. Sheets are dried on a plaster wall and surface sized with wheat starch. The colour is applied by brush. Indigo plant dye is the probably the oldest of all dyes and was named indikon by the Greeks in reference to its Indian origin. After colouring the paper is burnished by rubbing on a curved block of wood with a smooth stone.
The interior book cover is of goat suede, stained with ultramarine pigment, wax and damar resin.
The endpapers – a rich stock toned to harmonize with the suede interior – are Bugra 100% rag paper.
The book is presented in a clamshell wrapped with Japanese blue mohair Asahi book cloth. The interior is lined with goat suede, custom-stained by hand with ultramarine pigment, wax and damar resin.
Presented in a limited edition of 30; 5 Artist Proofs and 25 for commercial sale. Each book is numbered, dated and signed by the artist.
A fragment of an embroidered garment, taken from the artist’s collection, is included in the book.
The garment made in Soviet Ukraine during the during the 1920s -1930s was divided into 50 pieces. Each piece is numbered 1/50 and signed by the artist on the back of the presentation folder made from the black cloth paper custom made to Maruschak’s specifications.
The Book Stand
A stand, handmade of Canadian walnut, cherry or maple, accompanies the book.
The stand is presented in a handmade slipcase lined with smoke-grey paper and wrapped with Japanese blue mohair Asahi book cloth.
The books were produced by Maruschak at Maine Media College where she was awarded the 2019 Book Artist in Residence Program Fellowship, October 2019.