This book was made for an exhibition titled "Pulcherrimae Strade" that was organized for the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy in 2002. Thirteen international artists were invited to create works for particular historic places in the region. Bourgeois's book was presented with each page framed and was installed in the San Francesco Church in Muggia (Trieste, Italy). Bourgeois made the cover for the book later, in 2006.
The photographic compositions in this book were digitally printed on fabric at a commercial printshop.
This was Bourgeois's first fabric book. She would next turn to books with pages of fabric collages.
Bourgeois made an additional photographic composition, “My Wounded Father,” for possible inclusion in “The Trauma of Abandonment.” See below in Related Works in the Catalogue. If Bourgeois had added that composition, the book would include 13 pages; she decided against it because the number 13 is considered bad luck.
Bourgeois did another book comprised of old family snapshots, titled “Album,” which was published by Peter Blum Edition in 1994. See below in Related Works in the Catalogue. That volume traces her childhood years and ends with her as a working sculptor. It includes some of the same images as those found in “The Trauma of Abandonment,” as well as two additional images of her father in uniform.
There is light staining on the cover and pages, as is commonly found in the old fabrics Bourgeois chose to use as printing surfaces.
The Louise Bourgeois Studio provided the following information:
Bourgeois's father, Louis, was an amateur photographer and Bourgeois had in her possession a group of photographs taken during World War I by him, or by his fellow soldiers, documenting their experiences.
Bourgeois considered her memories of her father leaving the family for the war as the beginning of her fear of abandonment. Her uncle Desiré was killed during the first week of the war and, as a result, her cousins Jacques and Maurice moved in with her family.
Bourgeois's mother Joséphine took Bourgeois with her and they followed her father from camp to camp. Most significant was the fact that Louis was wounded and Bourgeois traveled with her mother to the hospital in Chartres during his recuperation.
In this book's images, the circling of the hands in red stitching has to do with the longing for touch. Bourgeois's sculptures have many hands realized in marble and bronze, which continue this theme.
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