Bar Mitzvah cedar wood coverBar Mitzvah title page

Bar Mitzvah page


By Marshall Weber, in collaboration with paper maker Robbin Ami Silverberg, bookbinder Sophia Kramer, and designer Dana F. Smith
2011, Brooklyn New York, and San Francisco, California
22 pages, 10.5 x 9 x 2 inches, various media
edition of 13

Original collage, book design, Walnut, Japanese black ink and mix marker, Marshall Weber
Hand made abaca paper by Robbin Ami Silverberg
Scans, ink jet printing, book design, Dana Smith
Coptic binding with wooden boards, Sophia Kramer, N.Y., NY

Features Peter Handke’s poem “Childhood” (in German and English)

This book is a collaboration that integrates tactile, audio, and visual media into an evocation of a relic that Is both oblique and enigmatic. Both texts and images are often fragmentary, perplexing, and poetic. The entire book is a visual, conceptual and material spiraling. Silverberg has taken original documents from Weber’s Bar Mitzvah and childhood and made paper with them, Smith has matched images and design to both content and paper to provide (provoke?) a comprehensive aesthetic experience.

Statement from Marshall:
“This book 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.”

Notes on the collage sources:
I have taken my original Bar Mitzvah photo album from 1973 (photographs taken by Richard Schaller of West Hartford, Connecticut), combined it with:

- my Haftorah book (the book one studies in Hebrew to learn the scripture that
one recites during one’s Bar Mitzvah ceremony)

- other childhood papers, including my 1968 drawings of the Apollo spacecraft, handwritten reports of mine from elementary school

- iconic materials from my adolescence: 45RPM vinyl records, the receipt from my first hotel room experience, love notes to girlfriends, pages from my high school yearbook

- Peter Handke’s poem “Childhood” (in German and English), perhaps best know as the lead text in Wim Wenders “Wings of Desire” film, my favorite film and one of my favorite texts, (the film is about coming to manhood as well)

- writing from my then seven year old daughter, and her friend Milo

- various elements of cultural interface, Catholic imagery from my grand tour of Italy, Islamic calligraphy contrasted with wild style graffiti

- photographs of the 1800’s New York home streets of my American ‘ancestors’ and other enigmatic materials.