When the Child Was a Child
When the Child Was a Child
Digital print, Facsimile, Handmade paper
10.75 × 9 × 2 in
CollectionLimited Edition Artists Books
Bibliothèque Nationale de Luxembourg
Library of Congress (LoC)
This book is the result of a collaboration between Marshall Weber, Dana F. Smith, Robbin Ami Silverberg, and Sophia Kramer that takes its basic inspiration from Weber’s Bar Mitzvah. The book integrates tactile, audio, and visual media into an evocation of a relic that is oblique and enigmatic. The texts and images are fragmentary, perplexing, and poetic. Silverberg has taken original documents from Weber’s Bar Mitzvah and childhood and used them as both inclusions and pulp material for the handmade papers. Smith has matched images and design to both content and paper to provide a comprehensive aesthetic experience. Kramer’s faux ancient Coptic binding places the book in an anachronistic antique present.
“When the Child Was a Child uses the original documentation of my Judaic ‘coming to manhood’, ‘leaving childhood’ ritual as the basic terrain where my identities as a son, brother, child, political radical, Jewish-American, artist, and American collide. Childhood is a canvas of nostalgia, supposed innocence, confusion, maturing, separation from parents and their beliefs. Adolescence exponentially raises the bar on the traumas of growing up and growing old. Our families and our countries provide the identities and ideologies, which we both embrace and refute. Bar Mitzvah is a remix of my life, a time machine that travels back and forth trying to make some sense of it all.” — Weber
Notes on Marshall Weber’s collage sources:
– original Bar Mitzvah (Judaic coming of age ritual, literally “Bar” [Aramaic] = Son, of the “Mitzvah” [Hebrew] = Commandments”) photo album from 1973 (photographs taken by Richard Schaller of West Hartford, Connecticut),
– other childhood papers, including Weber’s 1968 drawings of the Apollo spacecraft, handwritten reports from elementary school,
– iconic materials from Weber’s adolescence: 45 RPM vinyl records, the receipt from his first hotel room experience, love notes to girlfriends, pages from his high school yearbook,
– Peter Handke’s poem “Song of Childhood” (in German and English), best known as the leading text in Wim Wender’s “Wings of Desire” film, Weber’s favorite film and one of his favorite texts. The film is also about coming to manhood,
– writing from his then seven year old daughter and her friend Milo,
– elements of cultural integration, Catholic icons from Weber’s grand tour of Italy, Islamic calligraphy contrasted with wild style graffiti,
– photographs of the 1800’s New York Lower East Side home streets of his American ‘ancestors’ and other enigmatic materials.
Digital prints of vintage handmade documents from M. Weber on handmade abaca and rag paper. Coptic binding. 10.75″ x 9.” 22 pages. Edition of 13. Brooklyn, NY, 2011.