epic of gilgamesh
Original Press Release:
Bilge Friedlaender's exhibition of sculpture, opening April 2nd and running through April 24th at Jessica Berwind Gallery, will include an installation of linen handmade paper and marble sculpture, a livre d'artiste and monoprints based on her interpretation of The Gilgamesh Epic. These works were included in the 2nd International Arts Biennial in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Gilgamesh Epic (4,000 B.C.) is the oldest epic known to us. The discovery of cuneiform clay tablets in the mid-nineteenth century in present day Turkey and Iraq led to the deciphering of the epic. Predating the Homeric epic by a thousand and a half years Gilgamesh, the renowned King of Uruk, is the first human hero in search of immortality and power. His outward struggle for immortality begins with the cutting of the sacred cedar forest, killing its sacred guard, enraging Ishtar/Inanna, the Goddess of heaven and earth and procreation, and finally killing her sacred bull of heaven. Displeased with Gilgamesh's trespasses, the Gods punish him with the death of his beloved friend Enkidu. This sacrifice brings about a search which ends with Gilgamesh's realization that only human creativity and deeds outlive death.
Bilge Friedlaender, who has a longstanding concern for the safety and preservation of the environment, sees in this epic a metaphor for modern man's destruction of the elements of nature and the need for awakening the human consciousness to our interdependency with nature. Bilge also sees in Inanna/Ishtar's struggle with Gilgamesh and her journey to the underworld and back a parallel to the awakening feminine consciousness of our time.
With these dual interests she has created sculpture as tools for healing and as offerings to engage in a dialogue of transformation. She has used the circle and the spiral as ancient sacred forms of continuity and healing. Her artist's book on Gilgamesh includes ten original chine-colle etchings, in an edition of 50, printed by Cindy Royce Ettinger in Philadelphia. This book is currently beginning a four year tour of Eastern and Western Europe in an exhibition of collaborative works, "Crossing Over/Changing Places," curated by Jane Farmer. Her monoprints were executed at Pyramid/ Atlantic, a handmade paper and artists' book workshop in Washington, D.C .. Bilge Friedlaender was invited to participate in two international Biennials of handmade paper sculpture in Germany and Hungary in 1992.