I hear a new world (I hear a new world) / Calling me (calling me) / How can I tell them (how can I tell them) / What's in store for me? (what's in store for me?) / From I Hear a New world: an Outer Space Music Fantasy
Joe Meek, 1959
Printmaking loves to celebrate its past. With a rich history involving different cultures around the world, print practices reflect the contemporary interests of the social contexts in which they are created. From 17 th Century woodblocks of the ‘floating world’ of Edo Japan to the religious imagery of Northern Renaissance engravings, printmaking offers a unique insight into the everyday practices of social life.
But this sort of historical framing is complicated when applied to screenprinting, the most recent invention in the world of hand-processed print production. Screenprinting doesn’t have practitioners reaching back centuries. Its straightforward image-making technique of pushing ink through a mesh stencil doesn’t hold the subtly of an etched line or the gravitas of a woodblock print. Instead, the immediacy of mark- and image-making is almost instantaneous in screenprinting, encouraging the co-option of a pop culture lexicon that challenges the somber images created in the past.
Screenprinting’s strength lies in its hybridity. Printing practices based on drawing and photography have shaped printing styles to be responsive to immediate stimuli. Through its accessibility, screenprinting has become the voice of punk, dissent, and resistance. Now fluidly joining digital processes, it serves as the components for installation and animation.
Contemporary screenprinting expands our capacity for experiencing prints beyond relatively stable substrates like paper and encourages us to embrace new notions of ephemerality.
For this exhibition, instead of celebrating printmaking’s past, I want to celebrate printmaking’s future. It is in this spirit of celebration that I search for narratives, connections, and answers amongst the prints in this biennial exhibition. More often than not, though, the work presents further questions. In particular, like Joe Meek’s New World, the work forces me to ask “what’s in store for me?”
Where do I want to be?
Josh MacPhee’s optimistic political work suggests a better place, a participatory utopia I want to inhabit.
What kind of man am I?
The work of Jenny Schmid tells me, both subtly, and not so subtly, how gender roles have shaped the lives of women and men, and challenge me to be a better man.
What is space and time?
Prints will bend space and time. Shawn Bitters creates illusions that question what is real. Erik Waterkotte opens portals to new realities. I want to visit them.
What is our history?
John Hitchcock explores our past on a grand and terrible scale, while Adriane Herman explores a personal one.
What makes us feel?
Lenore Thomas, Travis Janssen, and others in the exhibition engulf me in visual layers and optic codes, transmitting emotion and contemplation. These prints have something to say. They will speak to you, too. It’s time to listen.