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Image of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, from the series "Imaginary Monuments"

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, from the series "Imaginary Monuments"
Print

2013
62 1/2 x 48 in. (158.75 x 121.92 cm)

Sandow Birk (Detroit, Michigan, 1962 - ) Primary

Object Type: Print
Medium and Support: Direct ink gravure on handmade gampi panels backed with handmade sekishu kozo paper
Credit Line: Gift of the Lipman Family Foundation
Accession Number: 2013.06.01

Exhibition


Initial Public Offering: New Works from SJMA’s Permanent Collection, March 1, 2014 - August 24, 2014, New Wing, First floor, Gibson Family Gallery and Plaza Gallery, San José Museum of Art.

SJMA Label Text


Initial Public Offering: New Works from SJMA’s Permanent Collection (2014)

Sandow Birk rearticulates historical moments from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in order to explore contemporary political and social narratives. For Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the second in an ongoing series of direct gravures collectively titled “Imaginary Monuments,” Birk based his fictionalized monument on the Vendôme Column in Paris. The column was originally erected in 1806 to commemorate Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz (in the present day Czech Republic) in the winter of 1805.

Birk’s column is in a state of decay. A provisional system of pipes, scaffolding, and bamboo prevents it from toppling over. On the teetering pillar is inscribed the text of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”—a document ratified by the U.N. General Assembly in Paris in December 1948 that expresses the entitled rights inherent to all human beings. Birk surrounded his deteriorating column with poverty-stricken neighborhoods reminiscent of Thailand’s floating slums and Latin American shantytowns in an effort to call into question the effectiveness of the “Universal Declaration” and whether nations have truly been committed to upholding the basic rights of all peoples.

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Dimensions
  • Image Dimensions: 62 1/2 x 48 in. (158.75 x 121.92 cm)

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