FROM ADLER TO ZYLBER (literally, "from eagle to silver"), "an alphabetic cosmology of the dead," is an invented lexicon of obituary pictograms based on German-Jewish names taken from an Auschwitz transport list.
The original document inspiring this project is the 1000-name transport list of Convoy #42 (6 November 1942; France to Auschwitz), which I accidentally found in Memorial to the Jews Deported from France 1942-1944 by Serge Klarsfeld. My grandfather was among 1,000 Jews from all over Europe on this particular train, many of whom had sought refuge in what had been unoccupied France.
FROM ADLER TO ZYLBER is a symbolic continuation of Convoy #42's journey.
From this transport list I originally selected 100 German-Jewish names with meanings referring to elements in the natural world. Each name is represented by a visual interpretation in the form of a pictogram--pairing the name, written in Gothic script, with a number and a different associative image. The images were taken from pre-War sources of European popular culture--lexicons, school- and text-books, fairy-tales, children's books and other printed ephemera, then collaged together and sometimes slightly altered by drawing. This mixture of elements is contained by a black border (reminiscent of a death notice) and a thin outer edge of white. Each pictogram, photocopied onto white paper, measures 36" by 36" square. I now present this project as a 36-pictogram installation scaled down from the original 100 (36 is a multiple of 18; in the Hebrew alphabet the number 18 is equivalent to the word chai, meaning life).
The title FROM ADLER TO ZYLBER refers not only to the first and last names chosen from the transport list of Convoy #42 but also describes the system by which the pictograms are arranged within a given space. They mimic the order of nature--Adler (eagle) is hung high above, Zylber (silver) nearest the ground, and so on.
FROM ADLER TO ZYLBER is an ongoing project having many variants. The open-ended FROM ADLER TO ZYLBER cycle is a clue-filled rebus seeking to tell a story without words "illustrating" the tragic fate of the European Jews. I consider the pictograms as gravestones for people who had no funerals.