Collage, Hand-painting, Rubbing
15.75 × 11.8 × 1 in
University of California, Irvine (UCI)
The most recent in Marshall Weber’s 12 volume “Liberty Series,” Nor for the Towering Dead is an extraordinary collaboration.
. . . Towering Dead, says Weber, “is a homage to Dylan Thomas, inspired by his poem “In My Craft or Sullen Art“, and to the concept that in the 21st century we need a paradigm shift that lets us leave the ethical immaturity of our species behind. There are no chains that bind us to the ignorance and pain of the past but the ones we ourselves forge – time to melt those chains with the uncovered sunbeams emanating from Liberty/Athena/Isis’s crown.”
In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.
Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.
Various incarnations of the aforementioned goddesses both haunt and bless the pages of this lyrical palimpsest and are woven around rubbed quotes from Camus, Virginia Woolf, and Thomas, (from the Library Way plaques on 41st Street in NYC), fragments from the histories of indigenous peoples and African slaves in New York are collaged from the plaques surrounding Foley Square in downtown NYC.
The result is an epic visual and poetic ‘concrete’ that aesthetically and physically forms bridges between past and future, London and Manhattan, and the mundane and the sacred.
Weber and Cockram have never met in person or spoken to each other on the phone. They “met” solely via seeing and handling the other’s art in person. Each felt a sense of aesthetic kinship. There was a brief email exchange. Weber proposed a 50-50 collaboration and Cockram agreed. In August 2016, a substantial but incomplete work, a carefully collated narrative grouping of Weber’s art in book format, arrived at Cockram’s studio. Cockram was to complete the book: to contribute his own art to the intentional internal blank pages, to work into and add to Weber’s art, and to bind the completed book in any way he wanted. The result is a fluid, cohesive, tactile, and beautiful book.
Weber, upon sending his art to Cockram said, “It is rare when artists from across the world share the same palette and can work collaboratively without meeting or sharing a physical space…To share enough intuitive resonance with Mark to be collaborating in this ‘blind’ satellite method is very inspiring!”
Cockram, an artist who is best known for his highly accomplished and creative art bookbindings, relished the opportunity to collaborate on the content of the book: “Usually my input to a book is limited to the binding, the end papers, and the edges of the text block, with my response being drawn from the text block. With …Towering Dead, I was able to add to the text block. My involvement being multiplied, I felt liberated and was able to pursue a series of very deliberate design and realisation objectives. The final binding evokes the texture of the urban environment. Undulating surfaces and lettering appearing to have been pressed into wet cement all add to the drama of the complete book.”
“Liberty Series” is a project of 12 unique books anchored by images of the Statue of Liberty and excerpted texts concerning New York City. Other books in the series (there is only one copy of each book) are at the following institutions: Stanford University (Thorn), Library of Congress (Black Lives Matter, Coronation, and Flow), Wesleyan University (Goddamn Europeans), Grinnell College (Echo), and the La Jolla Athenaeum (Tacit Knowledge).
Flatback case binding in full cotton/linen traditional buckram (believed to be from the 1950s), concave spine with simple Manhattaning to the tail. Boards and spine were achieved using an air-dried modeler’s clay with pressed in hand letters, type, printing plates, and other objects; colors created using acrylics, pastels, and pigments. Binding finished with varnish. Endpapers worked directly with heelball wax sticks, collage, reverse transfer prints, and acrylic paints. Text block primarily wax rubbings, Sumi ink mono-prints from wax plates made by rubbings, both from bronze historical markers in London and New York City, man-hole covers, and other surfaces in Arches Rives BFK paper and inkjet prints on Moab paper with various other inks, paints, and collage media. Bound by Mark Cockram in 2017. 30 cm x 49 cm x 2.5 cm.