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Collaborations Between
David Hage & Dan Waber

book one
book four
book five
the re(a)d line

(some of these pieces were originally shown at Anthology Books in Scranton, PA USA and/or as part of the re(a)d line at the Schulman Gallery, Nanticoke, PA USA)

When David and I first met he was (among many things) a visual artist looking to incorporate more text into his work and I was (among many things) a poet looking to incorporate more visual elements into my work. We met at an event and began talking and seemed to hit it off pretty well and so we started to talk about collaboration.

Collaboration is a funny kind of beast. When it clicks, it makes creation like play. When it fails to click it can be worse than trying to shave with a cheese grater. I remember telling David, “I am kind of an idea factory. If there’s some way that I could soak up a bunch of your work I’m sure I can come up with some ideas for projects we could do together.” He invited me to come visit his studios (one at home and one in a grandparents’ barn). Talk about a bunch of work to soak in, wow, David had just an absolute ton of really amazing work. I was excited by pretty much all of it.

I remember, in particular, standing with an open portfolio of hundreds of pieces, turning them page by page like an enormous unbound book. David was sort of watching over my shoulder, and the (normal) awkwardness of watching someone look at your artwork had him providing a kind of ongoing abbreviated running commentary. At one point he said, as I slowly flipped pages, “... that one is a landscape ... that one is sort of about me working through my issues with Society and Over-Stimulation ... that one is some kind of animal with five legs and wire for hair ...”. No change in inflection for any of those, they were all equal in his (amazing) mind. And so they are.

I left and put “find something to collaborate with David on” into a little simmering pot on the back of my multi-burner brain. The next day I had an idea. When you’re a writer you accumulate a lot of blank books. Well-meaning people give them as gifts for all sorts of occasions. But the thing is, writers tend to be very idiosyncratic about their writing practice. Most of the writers I know (myself included) have an extremely narrow range of acceptable combinations of mark-maker and mark-taker. So these blank books end up just languishing unused in a pile somewhere. Too nice to throw away, often stick-bound or made with hand-made paper, or otherwise made DeLuxe in some fashion, but ultimately unusable for the real work of writing. So I had a pile of more than 10 and less than 20 of these books. I also was working in a place that had a guillotine cutter that could cut through a phone book like a cleaver through butter, which made it simple to cut the pages from their bindings. I did this with several books and then called up David.

We got together and I told him the loose plan. I said, “You take one book worth of pages and put images on them, and I’ll take one book worth of pages and put text on them, and then when we’re both done we can swap. Then you can put images with my text and I can put text with your images.” The next day I texted him and said, “Don’t feel rushed, but, I’m done with my book.” He said, “Me too!” Well, that was the easy part anyway, right? Nothing to have to play off of and all. So we got together that day and swapped. I loved what he’d drawn in that first book and I just started loading sheets into a typewriter and next thing I knew I was done. So I texted him the next day and I said, “Don’t feel rushed, but, I’m done with my book.” He said, “Me too!” I think in the first two weeks of collaborating together we produced over 600 pieces.

Many (but not all) of those pieces are in the galleries below. The ones that aren’t included maybe didn’t scan well (LetraSet on a gold-threaded paper with drawings in pencil made for some real imaging challenges), or didn’t excite me enough to warrant sharing publicly (in every case because I felt my own contribution to the collaboration didn’t belong on the same page with David’s). Here’s the ones that I think really worked.

book one
book four
book five
the re(a)d line

(some of these pieces were originally shown at Anthology Books in Scranton, PA USA and/or as part of the re(a)d line at the Schulman Gallery, Nanticoke, PA USA)

If you like these, you may also like our fingersdidit series. For a year David did a drawing a day on his iPhone and I captioned it using mine.

More information on David can be found at davidhage.com.