Sims Reed Rare Books×

The Drowned and the Saved. 23.4. - 13. 9. 1992

Serra, Richard

Pulheim. Synagoge Stommeln. 1992
The deluxe catalogue for Richard Serra's 'The Drowned and the Saved' with an original signed monochrome photograph.

Richard Serra's exhibition 'The Drowned and the Saved' - the title is taken from Primo Levi's 'I Sommersi e I Salvati' (1986) - was held at the Synagoge Stommeln, one of the very few German synagogues to survive the Second World War and now the site for rotating art exhibitions. Serra's work consisted of a single monumental iron sculpture, 'two right angles, whose horizontal dimensions are longer than the vertical ones, so that they would invariably fall if they stood on their own, are facing each other, one propping up the other ... '.

'Serra does not attempt to create something ... that would match the experience of the Holocaust. Rather, he reduces his vocabulary to elemental functions such as that of carrying, of weighing down, or of leaning against one another ... The relationship of the saved to the drowned is a traumatic and burdening one ... the mutual support is not one of mutually propping each other up but of having to prop yourself up against your will. It is a coercive constellation, a relation emerging from the unspeakable experiences of the Holocaust. It is a hermetic relation that the observer cannot, or can only indirectly, empathise with, and so Serra's sculpture confronts the visitor head-on, generating a silent and yet massive distance.' (Synagoge Stommeln).

Together with the catalogue for the exhibition, housed in this deluxe format in a black cloth box, is an original monochrome photograph (177 x 208 mm), mounted under passepartout and signed by Serra in pencil at lower right. A further publicity photograph (146 x 104 mm) is also included, with printed label verso with details 'Projekt Synagoge Stommeln / Richard Serra / The Drowned and the Saved ... &c.' and credit to 'Ralph Hinterkeuser, Köln', 1991 / 1992. The original invitation for the vernissage for the exhibition, a folded oblong sheet of glossy paper (148 x 208 mm) with monochrome photograph to front and exhibition details within, is also included.

The catalogue was designed by Serra together with Clara Weyergraf-Serra and although there appears to be no indication of limitation, it is likely that this deluxe edition was issued in small numbers.

Also included, framed separately, is the original exhibition poster for 'The Drowned and the Saved' (842 x 594 mm); the poster is signed in pencil at lower right.

Serra's catalogue is scarce and we can locate only the copy at Glasgow in the UK together with copies at MoMA, the Smithsonian, the Bibliothèque Nationale and Cincinnati's Hebrew Union College only; of those copies located, none are in this deluxe format.
[16 unnumbered leaves]. Square 8vo. (210 x 210 mm). Printed title with introduction by Gerhard Dornseifer verso, map of synagogues in Erftkreis before 1938, text and 9 monochrome reproductions of photographs, Serra's explanatory text, biography, exhibition history and publication details; printed text in German (with English translation of Serra's text) on black or white paper stock as issued. Original publisher's printed wrappers stapled as issued, covers with monochrome reproduction photographs, titles in black to front cover, loose in original black cloth box with title in blind to front cover.

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