This piece (Prayer for Us / Prière pour nous) depicts a kneeling life-size figure, engaged in the Muslim prayer position, Sujud. The crouching figure represents a gesture of submission before god, for the believer.
While the work is carved out of stacks of newspaper, viewers see a pile of loose sheets of paper in the form of a crouching figure. While the paper is mounted upon an internal armature of welded steel and affixed with additional fasteners, none of these elements are visible to the observer. The paper was carved with saws, knives, and scalpels using a particularly labor-intensive process. Carving is usually a sculptural process associated with a hard, durable medium (stone, wood). Here, it is used to unearth a figure out of a block of information, just as figurative sculptors used carving to liberate figures from a block of stone.
The French newspapers were collected over the course of several months. They are stacked at random, as evenly as possible to allow for the eventual carving of rounded and organically sloping forms. The newspaper is an ephemeral commodity; “the first page of history,” it records and reports the day’s events in a seemingly endless stream of chatter in which political upheavals receive as much space as a large ad for a car dealership. Because the newspapers used in the sculpture were taken at random, there is no underlying theme or preference to certain articles over others. The paper itself is a compendium of information with no discernible pattern.
It is unclear whether the figure is made by the news or whether he is making the news. The praying figure emerges out of stacked newspapers. The stack becomes significant by taking the form of a kneeling, praying, figure. Two contradictory forces are at play in the work; the will to define oneself by asserting one’s presence through ritual and reduction of the individual to stereotypical images in the mass media.