AMERICAN PROCESSION

In collaboration with Elyse Pignolet and Mullowney Press, San Francisco.

Three woodblock prints. 2018. 40 feet long combined size.

In Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet’s enormous print project “American Procession”, the image plays off of the Dresden mural and the concept of Heroism by depicting an imaginary parade of figures from American history. Beginning with the oldest in the back of the line and proceeding forward through time, the personalities are those who made remarkable contributions to their times – for better or for worse. But rather than depict the standard well-known figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and John F. Kennedy, the majority of figures in this procession are more thought-provoking and polemic.
This simultaneously brings lesser-known but important figures to light, but is also more engaging than a simple portrayal of a cannon of American greats. The figures depicted are of opposing sides of the political spectrum spanning US history from the colonies to the present day, and offer a way to rethink how we arrived at the current state, with vastly different ideologies on the left and the right of the political spectrum.

The project consists of 3 enormous woodblock prints. Two measure 3’ x 17’ and a third central panel is 4’ x 6’. One long panel depicts Progressives from history marching to the right, while the other depicts Conservatives from history marching to the left. Both processions head toward confrontation and the central panel, which depicts a Triumphal Arch in ruins, amid the scattered debris of Americana – a police car, the Liberty Torch, bits of the Hollywood sign, an electric chair, a noose, a rural home, an old tire, while a helicopter and blimp hang over a smoke spewing power plant.

The prints were produced by the artists in Los Angeles by carving into plywood panels using a variety of tools. Once carved, the panels were printed using an offset printing press at Mullowney Printing studio in San Francisco. The resulting prints are then joined together into the larger pieces, and backed for strength.

The images are to be displayed so as to create a long frieze. All together in one line, the prints would measure 48” high by some 40 feet long. However, in a practical sense, the works could be shown in different ways, from individual panels to one long, complete procession, depending on the venue and the space available.

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 "American Procession" Central Panel   2018. Woodblock print on Kozo Paper, 48" x 72". In collaboration with Elyse Pignolet and Mullowney Press, San Francisco. 
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 "American Procession (Progressives)"   2018. Woodblock print on Kozu paper, 36" x 17'0". In collaboration with Elyse Pignolet and Mullowney Press, San Francisco. 
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 "American Procession (Conservatives)"   2018. Woodblock print on Kozu paper, 36" x 17'0". In collaboration with Elyse Pignolet and Mullowney Press, San Francisco.