Collage, Ink, Natural Pigments, Photo, Rubbing
11 × 9 in
Wesleyan University, Olin Library
The photographs in this book were taken in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2006 by Stephen Dupont. The ink painting, rubbing, and book design was done by Marshall Weber.
Weber illuminated Dupont’s photographs with rubbing collages from memorials that illustrate the persistence of colonial conflicts across the centuries. The found and cut-up text and ghostly images from these matrixed memorials form the poetry that intertwines with the photo collage and evidences the linkages between global indigenous liberation struggles.
The original photos were taken in downtown Kabul, with bystanders assisting with the holding up of the blanket borrowed from a local passport and visa photographer. Dupont set up a unique and egalitarian relationship with his subjects, as he was shooting polaroid film and immediately gave each subject the positive polaroid print of their portrait and later printed the images from the Polaroid negatives. A veritable riot of willing participants gathered around the simple chair and ‘backdrop’ as Dupont does a workaround the typical constraints and exploitative history of ethnographic reportage.
Dupont chose about 300 photos from his massive archive and gave them to Weber who then edited the sequence and constructed an accordion fold book of the portraits. Weber then traveled around the world with the book for over a year, collaging the rubbings over the photographs (and thus embossing and debossing the photos as well). In a final integrating layer, Weber meticulously brushed Sumi ink, turmeric, saffron, and other inks and pigments pigment throughout the pages of the book merging the imagery and highlighting various images and texts creating both an epic frieze and an intimate accordion fold book.
Rubbing sources: Australian war memorial and Aboriginal history plaques in Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney, Australia; Lyndale Park Peace Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument, Crow Agency, Montana; Downtown Farmers’ Market plaques, Olympia, Washington; and the Wounded Knee massacre site and cemetery memorial monuments, on the Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation, near Pine Ridge, South Dakota.