Julie Unruh
Did you see

Did you see, XII.152

Silverpoint and copperpoint on prepared ground on found paper

20 7/8" x 14.75"

Translation of the cuneiform:"Did you see the one whose ghost has no provider of funerary offerings?" "I saw (him)."

Gilgamesh is allowed to speak to Enkidu's ghost, and he asks what happens to the dead in the underworld. Enkidu's reply is the last line of the story: he says that the person with nobody to care for his ghost is the lowest, most miserable and insignificant being in the underworld, doomed to eat garbage eternally.

You cannot be insignificant, because there is a bigger picture. Chemically, everyone is made of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and other elements – the same elements that compose the stars. On a fundamental level, not only are we are all the same, but we are the same as the stars. Eventually, our sun will nova, and our chemicals will be blown back out into the universe. Eventually, we will all be reborn as new stars.


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.