Julie Unruh
Find the tablet box

Find the tablet box, I.24 – 26

Copperpoint on prepared ground on found paper

23.5" x 16.25"

Translation of the cuneiform: "[Find] the tablet-box of cedar, [release] its clasps of bronze! [Open] the lid of its secret."

Telephone poles are made of cedar, and telephone wires are copper - the same materials used to construct ancient boxes which stored cuneiform tablets containing the Gilgamesh story. Llike the ancient boxes, telephone wires also "contain" stories. In the same way cuneiform tablets became obsolete, telephone lines are now becoming obsolete. Most communication is lost. However, the story of Gilgamesh has remained relevant: the questions asked by Gilgamesh have not changed in 5000 years.


This series of 10 drawings is based on the ancient Mesopotamian story of Gilgamesh. "Gilgamesh" appears on cuneiform tablets (an ancient form of writing on clay) dating to about 2000 B.C.E. It relates an epic journey made by the King of Uruk, Gilgamesh, and his friend, Enkidu. The story is also about what is and is not eternal and significant. These 10 drawings, like the story, are about permanence versus transience, and about trying to determine what is important and what is inconsequential.

The drawing substrate - paper bags - comment on disposability and value. Like excavated archaeological material (most of which is ancient refuse), when the paper bags are put into a different context, their significance changes. Also like excavated archaeological material, the paper bags will deteriorate over time. In this way, the drawings are like the ancient tablets on which the story of Gilgamesh was written.

All of the drawings in this series are made by drawing with sharpened silver or copper wire. The lines are created by transfered metal particles, which means that the drawings themselves will tarnish with time, like archaeological objects.