book: 1 9/16 x 2 1/8 x 5/16 inches
locket: 1 7/8 x 2 7/16 x 3/4 inches
box: 5 3/4 x 6 3/4 x 2 7/8 inches
handmade book within a metal locket with a box
Memento is about the fragility of the book and the power of reading. It is a miniature book that is housed in a metal locket. The locket also houses a triptych that contains a woven token commemorating Al-Mutanabbi Street in Iraq.
This work was made as part of the Al-Mutanabbi Street book project. Al-Mutanabbi Street was the center of Baghdad bookselling that was destroyed by a car bomb in 2007. The project is a reaction against violence and involves book artists and printers from around the world. Chen’s piece contains images of the street as it was before the bombing. Woven text entwines the Preamble of the American Constitution woven- horizontally and the Preamble of the Iraq’s Constitution vertically. The locket is inspired by Victorian mourning jewelry in which some memento of the person, braided lock of hair or a small photograph may be worn close to the body.