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Direct gravure etching on two copper plates printed on two sheets of gampi paper, joined and backed with sekishu kozo paper. Co-published by Mullowney Printing and Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco and Portland, OR. Edition of 25 plus 8 proofs. Sheet: 61 ½ x 44 inches.
About the work:
Co-published by Catharine Clark Gallery and Mullowney Printing, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2012), is the second gravure in “Imaginary Monuments”. The source text is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted in Paris on December 10, 1948, and considered the “magna carta of human rights.” Birk’s transcription encircles a leaning and towering column resembling the obelisk in the Place Vendôme, Paris, which is propped up by scaffolding and positioned between a skyline of skyscrapers and shacks. The original Universal Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It defined, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. Birk’s monument reminds us that the struggle for human rights and social justice is ongoing, made clear in the contrast between the lofty buildings (monuments to wealth and power) and putrefying favelas (monuments to poverty and income inequality).
Birk’s gravure is held in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Detroit Institute of Arts; and Portland Art Museum, among other collections.