Zdenek Tmej: The Alphabet of Spiritual Emptiness
Books on Books No. 10
Text by Vladamir Birgus, Alexandra Urbanova.
First published in 1946, Abeceda Dusevniho Prazdna (The Alphabet of Spiritual Emptiness) offers an extraordinary look inside a German forced labor camp in Breslau, Poland, during 1941-1943. It is remarkable that Zdenek Tmej, a Czech citizen made to work for the Nazi war effort, was able to photograph at all, let alone produce such a poetic response to the horrors of the war. Tmej portrays the experience of captivity through images loaded with furtiveness and despair. Errata's edition reproduces every page spread from this extremely rare and fragile document, including the original texts by Alexandra Urbanova, translated for the first time into English, and a contemporary essay by Czech photo historian Vladimir Birgus. This little-known masterpiece today stands as an ever-relevant symbol of survival and resistance.
The Errata Editions' Books on Books series is an ongoing publishing project dedicated to making rare and out-of-print photography books accessible to students and photobook enthusiasts. These are not reprints or facsimiles but complete studies of the original books. Each volume in the series presents the entire content, page for page, of an original master bookwork which, up until now, has been too rare or expensive for most to experience. Through a mix of classic and contemporary titles, this series spans the breadth of photographic practice as it has appeared on the printed page and allows further study of the creation and meanings of these great works of art. Each volume in the series contains illustrations of every page in the original photobook, a new essay by an established writer on photography, production notes about the creation of the original edition and biographical and bibliographical information about each artist.