Marat Mahākāla, is a collaborative work by Michael Kirk and Andrew Cornell Robinson, which generated the print installation along a length of remnant wall in Ridgewood. The piece was installed with the assistance of students from Parsons The New School for Design and Cooper Union as part of the exhibition, Eternal Misunderstandings in the Car Park, which opened during the Bushwick Open Studios, June 2014. The work remains and can be viewed from the street at 18-66 Troutman Street, Ridgewood, Queens, NY 11385.
A furious non-stop print process over the course of ten days resulted in over 600 printings producing 240 prints, using two photographic portraits by Robinson of the artist and curator, Paul D’Agostino and 10 response drawings by Kirk. The images were transferred to 12 screens and in a fluid and facile manner the medium became the vehicle for drawing, painting and transfiguring. The images were printed by Michael Kirk, at Howard Street Press.
97 prints comprise the image on the wall. Stacked five faces high and 19 across, the variations shift expression in a transformative movement of one face to the next. The summation leaves you with multiple impressions. The interaction of wheat paste on thin newsprint seems to melt the image into the wall as the paper absorbed every nuance of the wall’s texture and character. Razor wire along the top of the wall heightens a feeling of menace and danger, while the garden of flowers at its base add serenity and a sense of renewal.
The installation wall is the last remains of a bakery that once employed many people from the neighborhood. The words embedded in the piece read, “I’m not selling bread”, “I’m selling yeast”. They echo a phrase from the May 1968 Paris uprising. They are also an eerie reminder of this neighborhood’s past and how it is poised in the midst of changing trends toward gentrification.
About the title: Jean-Paul Marat was considered one of the most radical voices of the French Revolution. Through his writing and politics he advocated for human rights for society’s poor. Following his assassination Marat became a revolutionary martyr, an icon of the French Revolution.
In Tibetan Buddhism, Mahākāla is a protector, often portrayed as fierce with a number of distinctly different qualities and aspects. The deity represents the transmutation of the five negative afflictions into the five wisdoms.