Prayers for the Americans (I), 1999-2004

Still image projection, Variable dimensions
Prayer for the Americans (1) is inspired by a little-known short story by Mark Twain, ‘The War Prayer’, written in 1904 as a defence of pacifism in response to the Spanish-American War of 1898. The story describes the day before the American soldiers go off to fight, when the inhabitants of a small town gather in the local church to bid farewell to their men. The preacher asks God to protect them and grant them victory. Suddenly a stranger moves up to stand beside him at the altar and pronounces the words the minister has not dared to say, although they were in everyone’s mind: ‘O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells […].’
Allan Sekula presents thirty-nine images of residents from Hannibal, Missouri, the town where Mark Twain lived and worked. He uses apparently peaceful bucolic scenery, working families and kitsch flourishes to present the real America. Sekula believes that it is this calm that breeds the most warlike ideology of the world’s most powerful country and wonders, ‘Can a sequence or a superimposition of photographs constitute a prayer? Or a psalm?’

Technical details

Original title:
Prayers for the Americans (I)
Registration number:
Sekula, Allan
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Still image projection
Slide projection
Variable dimensions
Edition number:
Ed. 1/5
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Work purchased thanks to David Armengol
© The Estate of Allan Sekula
It has accessibility resources:

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