photo & text by nacrowe
MARKET DAY (DRAWN & QUARTERLY, 2010) tells the poignant story of a JEWISH rug weaver from a turn-of-the-20th century, presumably EASTERN EUROPEAN country who travels from his small village to a town market in the hopes of selling his wares in order to provide for his pregnant wife and unborn child.
you really get the sense of the OPPORTUNITY and SOCIAL CONNECTION that the market represents to an artisan, but also the sheer IMPOTENCE and VULNERABILITY from being unable to discern environmental economic shifts. such is what happens to our protagonist MENDLEMAN, who despite having a connections and a good reputation for his superior rugs, finds himself unable to secure a buyer. disgruntled and deeply frustrated for putting so much time, effort and creativity into his work, he sells not only his remaining stock of rugs but ultimately his loom as well at a steep discount.
for me this narrative is an evocation of the SUBSISTENT EXISTENCE that much of the world's COMMUNITY deals with day to day whereby steep BARRIERS regarding EDUCATION, CORRUPTION and PREJUDICE keep them down. CAPITALISM is a BRUTAL system and does not universally reward those who put in their TIME, EFFORT and CREATIVITY into their trade or craft. instead it usually rewards those that are able to leverage marketshare at scale and undercut the competition. MARKET DAY showcases how the influx of cheap goods through INDUSTRIALIZATION decimates the individual artisan who simply cant compete. it likewise showcases in striking terms the PSYCHIC DAMAGE dealt to an affected individual's lost sense of IDENTITY. i saw this unfortunate dynamic play out during my time in NIGERIA, VENEZUELA and ALBANIA where local labor was denied a dignified existence and left to serve the corporate interests of foreign companies (with no regards to their country) in order to make a decent living.
it is an INTOLERABLE yet far from unique situation and is the untold seedy underbelly of global CAPITALISM. i can image when MARKET DAY was released not long after the 2008 financial crisis that this sort of dynamic of the potential damage wrought by soulless corporate interests who care not for the DIGNITY of the COMMUNITY beyond its shareholders may have been top of mind.
it was when i read this graphic novel which is a touching PARABLE of our current predicament. MARKET DAY should be read by everyone.