Bodies under pressure
When: January 29 - March 9, 2018, weekdays 10am-5pm
Where: 2nd Floor, UAA Fine and Performing Arts Building;
3700 Alumni Drive, Anchorage, Alaska
Although we are always with our body, we only really become aware of it when it is injured, ill, or uncomfortable. This exhibition features the work of five printmakers (and a portfolio) from across the United States and Canada who are unified by their ongoing consideration of the three-dimensional human body as a site of history, trauma, and healing. Here, the body has been put under the pressure of the printing press and rendered two-dimensional in a way that enables a close examination of its corporeality. These artists use the body as subject and as material. As a space for agency and as a locus for process.
All of the printmakers in this exhibition are women, and most of the bodies they are considering are also women’s bodies. This gives us an opportunity to view bodily form, and bodily experience from a distinctly female point-of-view. In a small way, this exhibition contributes to the reclamation of the female figure from the art historical ‘male gaze’ – an ongoing project initiated by feminist artists in the 1960s.
Today, women are still struggling for agency: for control over their bodies and health, for equal political and economic power, and for fair representation in museum collections and exhibitions. Prints carry a lineage of activism and social commentary which make them ideal vehicles to instigate dialogue, distribute new ideas, and to effect change. In Bodies Under Pressure, the print matrix stands in for the body matrix, becoming a site where the “personal is political”.
The Medium is the Message
To an outsider, printmaking may seem like a magical process conjured from a mysterious combination of scratchings, chemicals, powders, metals, stones, woods, pressures, and incantations. In truth, printmaking requires a painstaking attention to detail combined with patience, and perseverance. Prints are impressions transferred from one surface to another using a variety of techniques – some as aged as 8th century Japanese woodblocking, or 15th century metal engraving, to recent experiments with digital technologies.
The potential for prints to be produced in repetition, even en-masse, and distributed to a wide audience has meant that its value is often depreciated in relation to other mediums which are (mis)understood to contain the authentic hand of the maker. But more than just iterations, prints exist as “multiple originals” at the intersection between ‘low’ and ‘high’ art to challenge history, critique the status quo, and repeat important ideas.
An often-overlooked aspect of printmaking is its communal nature. Since it often requires expensive or cumbersome equipment like presses, drying racks, and various chemical compounds, printmakers tend to work in shared studio spaces. Printshops foster a co-operative, and engaged environment where techniques and ideas are shared through experimentation, passed down by senior members, and brought in by visiting artists. As a result, printmakers maintain a tight-knit, yet international network that is supportive, ambitious, dedicated, and informed. For instance, although not all of the artists in this exhibition have met in-person, they are all acutely aware of each other’s practice. They have collaborated on projects, exhibited side-by-side, studied at the same institutions, and worked in the same printshops.
- Marnie Blair: https://twitter.com/marnblair?lang=en
- Joscelyn Gardner: www.joscelyngardner.org
- Darian Golden-Stahl: http://www.dariangoldinstahl.com/
- Jill Ho-You: http://jillhoyou.com/
- Heather Leier: http://www.heatherleier.com/
- Meghan Pohold: http://www.meghanpohlod.com/
- Allison Rosh: http://www.allisonhrosh.com/