On Onions by Elad Lassry


Green Apple Books (San Francisco)


At first glance, the title of Elad Lassry’s first artist book appears to be disarmingly literal: flip through the first few pages of On Onions and your eyes will find crisp, clinical photographs of the most commonly found types of onions. Alone, these images, while beautifully rendered, do not seem spectacular enough to hold attention for long. But the pairing of them with Angie Keefer’s essay on the act of crying quickly illustrates the value and power in combining image and text to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

Keefer’s text might be best described as tangential, moving from the science of crying to The Velveteen Rabbit to Douglas Sirk’s melodramas, all in just a few short paragraphs. Still, her ability to carefully draw these ideas together to form a cohesive narrative should not be underestimated. Keefer’s writing, while cold, is surprisingly moving, and when read in conjunction with Lassry’s images, which begin to repeat themselves, offers an experience that borders on hypnotic.

Although it is easy—and certainly satisfying—to consume On Onions in a single sitting, its layers are only truly revealed upon revision. Through their respective mediums, Lassry and Keefer have managed to create a dialogue that is surprisingly dense, asking the reader to contemplate not just the act of crying, or onions, but how they relate to the concept of “realness.”


On Onions is published by Primary Information and distributed by DAP/Artbook.com.

$30   PB   240 pages with 30 color illustrations   ISBN: 978-0-9851-3641-3   Pub date: October 2012