Difficult Reading: Part 1, The Heart of the Soul of America

Marshall Weber
Publication Date: 2015
Artwork type: Print
Medium: etching, aquatint, silkscreen
Dimensions: 26.0 in W x 28.0 in H
Binding Type: loose pages
Edition Size: 20
Price: USD 2800.00
Publisher: Cicada Press
Michael Kempson (printer)
Sydney, New South Walers Australia

A suite of 5 etchings with aquatinting (sugar-lift) detailing, done in collaboration with master-printer Michael Kempson at the acclaimed Cicada Press in Sydney.

The suite documents Weber's work in experimental calligraphy and pop culture literary excavation and is the first in Weber’s “Difficult Reading” series of artworks. Four of the prints feature a trenchant quote from a prominent historical or cultural figures, (Robespierre, Jennifer Lawrence's character in the movie [and book] "Winter's Bone", police murder victim Eric Garner's last words, and Austrlian actor Hugo Weavings character Mr. Smith's rant from the film "The Matrix") one features a rambling quote by Buddy, a homeless ex-con who has been living in the streets of San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood for many years.
The suite of five prints forms a found poem which explores the social manifestations of the violent capitalist authoritarianism at the heart of the nativist imperial soul of the United States of America. The suite starts from the left with Robespierre, the icon of revolutionary democratic ideals that would form the base of the American Revolution. The epitome of Enlightenment thought, the idea that royalty is no basis for government forms the seed of the American Soul. Next the quote from the pop film “The Matrix” supplies us with a future American dystopian reality, where the souless Americans exist in a digital fantasy, a totalitarian nightmare that expresses both American paranoia and revolutionary optimism.
In the middle of the suite is ‘Buddy’s Story” (a quote taken from an interview with a homeless man during Weber’s “Street Our Street” performance during the 2012 Streetopia Festival in San Francisco) a homeless man description of the destitution of life on the street of one of the world’s wealthiest countries. The oddly eloquent recounting of the addiction, the violence and the striving illustrates the contradictions of life in the United States - a rich country filled with desperate violent poverty, with people isolated in hyper-individualism a scant state health and social services.

The next quote from “Winter’s Bone” aptly describes the pride, aspirational culture and pioneer spirit of self-sufficiency that form much of the American spirit, but it also provides a clue to the violence - a hint of the sense of resentment at the invisibility of class in the USA and the option to “take, don’t ask”.
Finally the suite ends with a brusied and gagged Statue of Liberty reciting the last words of Eric Garner an unarmed black man choked to death by a New York City Policeman. The bleak irony present in the heart of the American soul is exemplified by contrast of Garner’s words and the famous "The New Colossus" poem that Emma Lazarus wrote for the Statue of Liberty in 1883 -
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”.

Prints in order of presentation and display:

(A limited number of prints will be available as singles outside of the suite.)
Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre, Cicada Press, 2015, 27.5 x 19.5 inches, edition of 20, intaglio. ($800)
The Gospel According to Mr. Smith, Cicada Press, 2015, edition of  20, 28 x 26 inches, intaglio. ($1,000)
Buddy’s Story, Cicada Press, 2015, edition of 20, 26 x 22 inches, intaglio. ($600)
From ‘Winter’s Bone,’ Daniel Woodrell, Cicada Press, 2015, edition of 20, 22 x 16 inches, intaglio. ($600)
‘I Can’t Breathe,’ RIP Eric Garner, Cicada Press, 2015, edition of 20, 23.5 x 21 inches, intaglio. ($1,000)
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