Ines von Ketelhodt, “Franz Kafka, Die Sorge des Hausvaters”


Ines von Ketelhodt
Flörsheim, Germany

Franz Kafka, Die Sorge des Hausvaters
hand-set, letterpress printed, glassine and mouldmade paper
book (11.26 x 7.83 x 0.35 in), clamshell box (11.73 x 8.15 x 0.71 in)

Artist Statement

Franz Kafka, Die Sorge des Hausvaters (The Cares of a Family Man)

Franz Kafka’s story is about a strange thing – or creature – called “Odradek.” “At first glance it looks like a flat star-shaped spool for thread, and indeed it does seem to have thread wound upon it; to be sure, they are only old, broken-off bits of thread, knotted and tangled together, of the most varied sorts and colors. But it is not only a spool, […] Odradek is extraordinarily nimble and can never be laid hold of. […] Am I to suppose, then, that he will always be rolling down the stairs, with ends of thread trailing after him, right before the feet of my children, and my children’s children? He does no harm to anyone that one can see; but the idea that he is likely to survive me I find almost painful.”

Kafka’s text is broken down into short phrases and spread out across all the pages of the book. There is only one line per page. Due to the transparency of the glassine book pages, the phrases on the following pages show through. The switch to individual lines seems to have interrupted the narrative thread, so that one “loses the thread” while reading.

In order to stitch the narration back together and to create a complete textual fabric, the individual text segments are connected by a piece of red thread about 8 meters (26 feet) long. From one page to the next, the red silk thread pierces the glassine paper and ultimately continues through the entire book, connecting the line of text on each page with the following one.

When the book is opened, the reader sees not only a space with lines of text in differing lengths, but also the red thread, which “moves with” the pages each time they are turned. Thus the reader/viewer is constantly changing the appearance of the double pages while turning the pages.

Design, hand-set, letterpress and bookbinding by the artist. Embossed cloth-covered boards (28.6 x 19.9 cm) housed in a paper-covered clamshell box (29.8 x 20.7 x 1.8 cm), glassine paper (50 g/m2), Zerkall mouldmade paper (115 g/m2), 96 pages, 35 numbered and signed copies.