9.5" x 13.75" x 1.25"
Encyclopedia volume, lead, metal paint
Blind embossing


Primo Levi, the Italian Jewish chemist and writer, wrote the unique work, The Periodic Table (1975), linked to qualities of the elements, which the Royal Institution of Great Britain named the best science book ever written.

His essay on lead has always moved me, and I find it particularly appropriate to my project.

Robert Bolick's insight:
The passage here, rendered by blind embossing on lead and metal paint, comes from Primo Levi's essay on lead in his book "The Periodic Table". It reminds me of Anselm Kiefer's lead books with wings ("The Language of the Birds", 2013), which you can read about here: It's a curious, leaden but uplifting, meet but outrageous conjunction: Van Zanten's personal grappling with depression, the concentration-camp survivor who ultimately succumbed to depression and suicide, and the Nazi-saluting artist who asserts that history is a weight that must be borne and embraced and lead is the only substance that is weighty, "alchemical" and mutable enough to bear it.

Van Zanten's appropriation of Levi for her project "Depression" is somewhat less outré than Sylvia Plath's appropriation of Jewishness in "Daddy", which is barely less outré than Kiefer's Nazi salutes. But all three are essential outrageous and shocking appropriations just as the appropriation of books as "just another material" with which to create art is essential.