AlieNation / SepaRation

In her latest artist book, AlieNation / SepaRation, Maureen Cummins interweaves first-person accounts of resettlers from Syria and Iraqi to bear witness to their vulnerability and unspeakable loss while struggling to adjust to new countries and cultures.

In this post I share with you Maureen's stunning project. To learn more about how the slipcases were laser engraved click, here.

From Maureen's artist statement:

As part of Swarthmore College’s "Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary" project (see credits below), I began by interviewing four participating families during the spring and summer of 2018.

Out of over 100 transcribed pages, I selected 48 excerpts and then pieced them together to create a narrative arc. The resulting text collage is not chronological in the traditional sense. It is the internal, lived experience, rather than any external reality, that unites these stories.

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I severed text blocks then reprinted them as quarto-sections on corresponding pages of four separate books. The result: a structure that is visually startling, experimental, and conceptually driven.

As in the case of the resettlers themselves, these stories must be reunited in order to be read, understood, and made whole again.

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Since the structure is also two-sided, with half the pages printed upside down, the reader is forced to puzzle out where and how to begin, and the order in which to read the pages.

Throughout this bewildering process, the reader / viewer experiences some measure of confusion, alienation, dislocation, and separation that resettlers experience every day.

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Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary was funded by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. Additional support for Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary was provided by Swarthmore College Libraries, the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, the William J. Cooper Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


AlieNation / SepaRation was produced in an edition of 50 copies. The four-volume set measures 17" x 7" x 2.5" and contains 192 pages. $2,600.

Want to add this stunning book to your collection?