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Rochelle Rubinstein

Rubinstein: Hanging Book Dimensions

  • Artist: Rochelle Rubinstein
  • Title: Hanging Books Dimensions, 120" x 60" x 60"
  • Materials: mixed media, reversible accordion books

My mother, Judith Schwartz Rubinstein, spent 1944-45 in Auschwitz.

She often described this year, its backdrop and its ramifications. I heard these testimonies more than anybody else, and their details naturally found their way into my work.

It may sound narcissistic and disrespectful, but I have felt as though I was there, too. This is the result of my blurring of boundaries regarding my mother’s intense narratives and emotions, as well as a response to her constant injunction to NEVER FORGET.

My tourist postcards take the form of either individual cards with space on the backs for terse Hallmark texts (1) or accordion-folded books of postcards (2) which to me evoke the beloved accordion books of postcards from family trips to Niagara Falls, circa 1960.

In these small works on paper, I have felt free to include aerial views of gas chambers, bunkers, crematoria, along with poems about war, family,oppression, repression, Canadian landscapes and contemporary interiors, and all sorts of cathected objects.

In the time since I offered this submission…the work has changed, without my participation. There was a large fire in my studio building. As nobody died or was injured, I think of this new second hand tragedy as minor – but my extensive inventory of work on paper, silk, and wood was damaged and altered with soot, smoke and water.

My works for I was there, with their recurring images of aerial views of Auschwitz, now are slightly greyer in tone and smell of smoke – which I cannot help but relate to the crematoria smoke smell that my mother would describe. (I share this with you because it will not be apparent online.)

A deepening of the vicarious quality of my second hand testimony.


Rochelle Rubinstein is a Toronto-based printmaker, painter, fabric and book artist. She is also a community arts facilitator and curator of MonTon Window Gallery. 

Copyright Notice

Permission has been granted for image use to the Centre for Memory and Testimony Studies. All rights to images belong to the artists.

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