Rachelle Rojany’s Yearsbooks is a series of artist books that reflect on the medieval illuminated manuscript, in particular, the devotional book of hours.
Wedded to the high-school yearbook, a present-day record and commemoration of time, the Yearsbooks illuminate memory’s restlessness, porousness, and its relationship to self-understanding.
The first in the series, at 81⁄2 x 11 inches and one-half inch thick, is a bound, yellow- spined collection of 76 favorite pictures faded to 10% opacity. Personal pictures of work, family and friends are interwoven with images culled from Rojany’s research, creating a dream-like narrative. What emerges over the pages is a loose impression of Rojany’s presence, like the lines of Sappho’s poetry discovered wrapped around an Egyptian mummy.
The Yearsbooks provide a new format for creating visual autobiography, full of jumped tracks, crossed synapses, memory and fantasy. Readers are
encouraged to use the book as a notebook, writing and sketching on top of its faded pages. Like a computer’s desktop image, those pages become a
backdrop to the reader’s working memory. Rojany’s self-portrait recedes underthe jotted notes and sketches of the reader, entangling authorship, background, and foreground.
Informed by the river of ever-present time in Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, the Yearsbooks address the permeability of self and the impossibility of seizing time. It is a prayer for interwoven existence inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh’s conception of “inter-being,” simply that all of the material world is