The Space Between is a collaborative book which uses the evolution of a bridge as a lens through which to explore the thresholds between built environments and the natural world, to ultimately illuminate the multifaceted, transitory roles of the human experience.
The images throughout The Space Between are reproduced from Sibony’s original monotypes, which were inspired by the gradual removal of the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. They depicted new dimensions of space and time that appeared as the bridge was dismantled. Sibony’s monotypes are fragments of isolated moments illustrating the act of transition in motion; a metamorphosis of wood, concrete, and steel showcasing the marks we make on nature: what vanishes and what remains.
On the inspiration behind her prints, Sibony writes:
On the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake (October 17, 1989) I had just begun commuting from San Francisco to work at Fantasy Records in Berkeley. Thus began my long-term relationship with the Bay Bridge. The quake caused the collapse of a 50-foot section of the upper deck and led to the death of a 23-year-old woman. I was fortunate not to be driving home on the bridge at the time of the earthquake, when I could easily have been returning to San Francisco. I spent that night in Berkeley with a friend since the bridge was closed to all traffic, and would remain so for several weeks.
Twenty-four years later, on September 3, 2013, a wondrous, white, single-span was set to replace the damaged eastern section of the bridge. On the day before the eastern span was closed forever and the dismantling began, I drove across that compromised structure for the last time. As I shot video from the car, a feeling struck me on a gut level: it was the start of a new era for the geography and landscape of the Bay Area — and the beginning of the end for an iconic structure that would soon cease to exist.
From then on I took photos with my iPhone whenever I drove across the new eastern span, adjacent to the closed cantilevered section, documenting its gradual deconstruction until it finally disappeared. Using a special transfer process I incorporated those images into a series of monotypes that are reproduced in The Space Between.
In The Space Between, the monotypes experience their own physical transition. Reimagined from two-dimensional print form to three-dimensional book form, Richards paired the images with prose inspired by a poem by Charles Koppelman, and created an interplay of shape, texture and word through the use of letterpress printing, translucent substrate and die-cuts. As the reader turns the pages, the images simultaneously build upon one another and retreat, creating a transitory evolution of meaning.
On the inspiration behind creating the book with Sibony’s prints, Richards writes:
I returned to the Bay Area just before the old eastern span was closed and the new span was opened, and so watched the transition mostly from afar as I sailed by on the highway, or watched from friends’ homes up in the hills. I was squarely in the middle of my childbearing years at that point, and so visits over the bridge into the city were rare and
mostly by necessity. Thus, my relationship with the bridge was one of happenstance utility.
After a collaboration with Deborah on our book Stained in 2016 and spending many hours in her studio, I became familiar with her monotypes inspired by the bridge. They resonated profoundly for me in the way they reframed my understanding of the bridge, depicting in it a place of blurred thresholds between space and time, human-made and natural spaces; a place of transient, evolving beauty. It’s fair to say the prints haunted me. Previously, Deborah had thought about incorporating them into a book, but wasn’t sure how; I knew I wanted to make a book from them, but wasn’t yet sure why.
While we were formulating our ideas, Deborah’s husband Charles wrote a poem in counterpoint to her images. As I sat with the images and Charles’ words, simultaneously meditating on the significant amount of transition in my own life and the lives of women around me, I realized what the book needed to be: an exploration of what it means to be in a liminal space.
The Space Between is made utilizing both machined and organic materials — from sheet metal covers to drafting film to handmade paper embedded with local Bay Area plant fibers — materials which ground it squarely in space and time as both a human and natural byproduct. The result is a physical and metaphorical exploration, and experience, of thresholds between that which we physically create, that which nature creates for us, and the emotional space in which we exist.
As such, The Space Between reveals the liminality of existence when physical spaces are neither here nor there, neither built nor unbuilt; when emotional spaces are evolving; and when everything is suspended, weaving through the space between.
The Space Between consists of ten monotypes printed by Sibony at Studio 1509 on a Takach press, digitally reproduced by Coast Litho on Grafix matte drafting film. Text set in Mark Simonson’s Goldenbook; typographic layout, die-cut, and letterpress printed by Richards at Liminal Press + Bindery on Somerset Book paper with a Vandercook 4 proofing press. Handmade paper embedded with local Bay Area plant fibers by Pam DeLuco of Shotwell Paper Mill. The Space Between is bound in bonderized steel covers and housed in a custom box by John DeMerritt.
11 x 7.5 inches, 24 pp, boxed. Edition 13.
University of California Berkeley, Bancroft Library
Wellesley College, Clapp Library