Books On Books Collection – Lynn Hatzius

A Semaphore Alphabet (2002)

A Semaphore Alphabet: From Angels to Zebras (2002)
Lynn Hatzius
Softcover, saddle stitched, staples. H148 x W105 mm. 32 pages. Edition of 300. Acquired from Blackwell’s Antiquarian & Rare Books, 15 November 2022.
Photos: Books On Books Collection. Displayed with permission of the artist.

Lynn Hatzius’s blend of the traditional and surreal in her abecedarium of linocuts foreshadows her more photographic collage and printmaking work, especially her book cover for Edith Grossman’s translation of Happy Families by Carlos Fuentes, her contributions to the Faces exhibition at the Topolski Gallery in 2010 and her series Limbs from the same period.

Hatzius finds several layers of whimsy and meaning by wordlessly jamming an inanimate template of limbs together with the heads, trunks, hands and actions of creatures usually associated with children’s ABC books (B for bird, C for cat, X for xylophone playing and Y for yo-yoing). Further surrealism — such as the bird’s wearing a beard and a headdress of bananas and basket of berries or the cat’s having lobster claws for paws — keeps readers on their toes. As the xylophonist and other occasional changes to the template’s lower extremities demonstrate, Hatzius also keeps her semaphore-forming template on its toes, blurring the line between animate and inanimate.

Perhaps that is Hatzius’s way of drawing our attention to the arbitrary association of letters and signs with things, actions and ideas. The usually inanimate part of a template can become animated, and the usually animate part of the template can just as well become the inanimate fence rail over which the zebra leans its head.

Further Reading

Abecedaries I (in progress)“. Books On Books Collection.

Leslie Haines“. 4 November 2022. Books On Books Collection.

Ludwig Zeller“. 24 March 2020. Books On Books Collection.

Baillie, Rebecca. 2014. “A Journey into Printed Matter“. For the eponymous solo exhibition at Fire Fly Books, Hackney, London, August-September 2014.

Levy Madelaine. 10 July 2010. “The Process of Collage“. For the exhibition “Festival of Paper” at BHVU Gallery, Stoke Newington, London, 16-25 July 2010.

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