Print Out

Review

of an Exhibition

by Alicia LoBiondo

Published on March 29, 2012, Modified on April 20, 2012

  • Museum: MoMA

  • Visit Date: March, 2012

  • Description:

    Print Out at MoMA
    *Images on MoMA website only

    “This exhibition examines the evolution of artistic practices related to the print medium, from the resurgence of traditional printmaking techniques—often used alongside digital technologies—to the proliferation of self-published artists’ projects.” MoMA online

    Print Out, the latest temporary exhibition at MoMA, showcases multiple artists and publishers that have pushed the envelope in printmaking. The museum is celebrating the techniques, style, and methods of printmaking, not just as a publishing tool, but also as it has evolved as an aesthetic art form. The ways the galleries and works are laid out attract the eyes and curiosity of all audiences. The bright colors in the prints and the method in which they break up the space with corners of black and white dotted walls keep the attention of younger audiences, however the message and the labels are more geared towards adults. The concepts behind some of the works are complex, or political in scope, but the museum refrains from overloading audiences with each artist’s statement, instead they focus on the intricacies of the production and innovative methods of transforming printmaking over time within the art scene.
    MoMA contributed a variety of works, and broke them up in ways that were engaging and at times interactive. Some key exhibits that stood out in the entire exhibition were those that stepped outside of the traditional printmaking realms, and allowed audiences to participate in some manner. Early in the exhibition there are etchings “Untitled” 2011, by twins Gert and Use Tobias. More known for their woodcuts, the Tobias’ worked with publisher Jacob Samuel to experiment with a new medium and tool, Samuel’s portable aquatint box. The wall showcased the etchings made by the twins, with a label that briefly described the process. On the wall beside them there was a video interactive, with headphones featuring Jacob Samuel describing his collaboration with the twins, and explaining the use of his aquatint box. Behind the viewer, is the actual machine standing alone on a small stage to be viewed although not touched. Including multiple stimulants to get these artists’ work and technique across
    was effective and inclusive.
    When entering the next gallery space, the audience is transmitted to an almost magical world. The works by Thomas Schütte, “Low Tide Wandering” (Wattenwanderung) 2001, are not traditionally hung on the walls, but strung along wires, sweeping across the room, criss-crossing over each other and hanging low enough for the audience to be wary and pay attention, but high enough that one is not walking into the etchings. Each print was a different color and recalled banners along the streets of Italy, or the hilltops of Nepal. Not only has this exhibit brought a sense of nostalgia, and delicate appeal, it presents prints in a very untraditional manner. Not only is it not bound in a book or magazine, but also it is not hanging on the wall like a painting or photograph. http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2012/printout/works/low-tide-wandering-wattwanderung-17/
    The next exhibit, by Super Flex “Copy Light/Factory” 2008, is a lamp installation where the artist prints images of popular lamp shades onto a sheet, then used as a screen on four sides of a lamp. The lamps are stacked on top of each other, hanging from the ceiling, set on the walls, and set in the center of the exhibit is a functioning workstation. Visitors can research times in which the artists are present to lead a workshop in producing their own lamps. Sadly, outside of these times the workstation remains unused and a bit sad looking, because you want to go over and touch, test, or merely print out an image, but you can’t. Although that was a tease for me, I love that within the full exhibition there is an opportunity for people to come in and participate in the creation of the multiple artists vision and message.
    Another exhibit called “Magi Bullet,” makes reference to Andy Warhols “Silver Clouds,” and has created silver, pill shaped balloons that float in the ceiling. There is a label explaining the reference to Warhol and the artist’s commentary on HIV/Aids, but again, not in an overwhelming or difficult manner. Along side the labels it states that guests are allowed to take home any balloons that deflate and fall to the ground. This is another three-dimensional use of printmaking, and also includes the audience and allows them to physically take a piece of the installation home with them.
    Finally I’d like to focus on the exhibit that simulates a private screening. The six phosphorescent screen prints by Phillippe Parreno, are displayed on the walls of a smaller, closed off gallery. At first you walk in to the room with the lights on and it appears there is nothing on the walls, however every sixty seconds the lights shut off and the phosphorescent ink illuminates and you can see the printed images glow in the darkness. I noticed that those that weren’t patient overlooked this particular exhibit at times, and upon entering what appeared to be an empty room, promptly walked out. In this case, reading the labels and explanation would have been more helpful in understanding what one was to expect. For the most part though the labels were there to briefly and clearly describe a message, and mostly the process or technique used to produce the works.

    MoMA online offers the audio tour to this exhibit, and images that are otherwise difficult/impossible to take pictures of, http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2012/printout/
    I was impressed with the layout and the many considerations that were taken to fully express their big idea. I would highly recommend this exhibition to everyone, even if printmaking were not of interest. Normally, I would overlook a print exhibition because it never much interested me in school, and I immediately assume publishing or t-shirts, and MoMA was successful in luring me in and showing me the multi-faceted techniques in printmaking and utilizing the art form in a variety of artistic ways, both traditionally and with contemporary thought and technology.

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