Used and worn fabric, imbued with sweat and memories, often woven and washed by the hands of women, was an ideal means to marry the themes Louise Bourgeois explored throughout her artistic career: The body, memory, intimacy, fragility, femininity and the attendant emotions of family and childhood recall her own childhood spent among tapestries from her parents' fabric restoration business. Impressive in its construction and quiet power, this particular work is an editioned handmade cloth book, Ode à l'oubli (Ode to Forgetting), published by Peter Blum Edition in 2004.
Directly based on the unique cloth book Ode â l'Oubli created in 2002 and from scraps of fabric Bourgeois had collected throughout her lifetime. The covers and 36 pages were created from monogrammed hand towels from her 1938 wedding to art historian Robert Goldwater (embroidered 'LBG'), assembled with scraps cut, bound, quilted, layered and appliqued from old clothing like stockings scarves, nightgowns and dresses, household items and other fabric remnants. The compositions are abstract and rhythmic, in warm, blue and neutral tones, interspersed with patterned fabrics and text images, with layered sheer and opaque fabrics of varying delicacy, stitched together and bound, with the backsides of the pages openly revealing the labor and lacing of the threads on the opposite pages.
The editioned book of 25 recreates these details meticulously, using techniques such as lithography, dying, digital printing, sewing and embroidery. Replicating the patterns, stitching and even stains imbedded into the original fabrics. The binding is made with tie and buttonhole fastening which allows the individual pages to be unbound. The edition was skillfully and meticulously produced over two years by Judith Solodkin and her team at Solo Impression and Raylene Marasco from Dyenamix, a fabric company specializing in dying and printing samples for the fashion industry.