Barbara Tetenbaum and Julie Chen, “Glimpse”


Cover of box


View of staggered pages showing envelopes/sleeves and diagram and numbers. These envelopes are flipped up to reveal text written by Julie Chen.


View showing how card inserts are pulled out from each envelope. The imagery and text on these cards was created by Barbara Tetenbaum to illustrate the ‘noise’ that makes up 90% of our personal history. The dates loosely follow Tetenbaum’s own biography.


Detail of cards


Detail of cards


Artist: Barbara Tetenbaum (Portland, OR) and Julie Chen (Berkeley, CA)

Title: Glimpse (2011)

Medium/technique(s): Letterpress, hand binding

Edition size: 100

Number of pages: 30

Dimensions, open: 23 ” x 8 1/8” x 1 1/8” in

Dimensions, closed: 11” x 8 1/8” x 1 1/8” in


Artist Statement:

This project examines the idea of personal history and how we form a sense of our own story. Prominent events may stand out as the nameable moments, yet it is the space between these events that life, in fact, is lived. To show this, we used a kind of photo album style book. Julie designed and wrote the text that appears on the envelopes. Barb illustrated and wrote the texts on the cards inside each envelope.

Julie Chen’s text on the outside of the envelopes (abridged for this document):

We define our lives as a series of events
Each one as discrete as the beat of a drum
We arrange these events into an intricate pattern in our minds
Interlocking various pieces of our daily experience
In order to form a more pleasing composition
That will give rhythm and structure to the passing of the days
We tell ourselves that this pattern is our story
This is what makes us who we are
We convince ourselves that certain parts of the pattern are predetermined and outside of our control
When in fact we ourselves choose what to include and what to discard
The spaces between events often go unexamined
Ignored or simply forgotten
We think of them as interruptions
Or as non-events devoid of content
We fail to realize that it is during these spaces
When much of life is actually lived

Examples of some of the text on the cards inside the envelopes:

March 13, 1957   9:25am   the barking got louder
October 4, 1965 2:20pm   she let her put the sprinkles on the cupcakes
September 24, 1073, 4:00pm   there was nothing on tv
December 1, 1975 8:00pm   we watched Yellow Submarine at his parent’s house
May 3, 1987 11:30am   he found me a ’69 LeSabre for $400
April 2, 1990 9:15am   I was in desperate need of a haircut
August 30, 1996 9:00pm   we are out of sweet vermouth
January 7, 2009 1:00pm   new downloads were available