Philagrafika 2010, America’s largest Print Festival is Coming Soon!


This event is so big it deserves it’s own post! Mark your calendars and pack your bags Philagrafika 2010 is coming to Philadelphia with the start of the new year. Beginning on January 10th and running through April 11th, Philagrafika 2010 will be presenting a staggering array of print exhibitions and events making it one of the most important art events for print globally, in line with Documenta and the other international art biennial and triennial events. Under the artistic direction of José Roca, and working with a power-house line-up of curators, Philagrafika (the member supported non-profit Philadelphia print organization) has assembled an unbelievable cast of artists, exhibitions and events (including but not limited to SGC International’s Mark/Remarque Conference). Here’s their description of the core concepts:

Involving more than 300 artists at more than 80 venues throughout the city, Philagrafika 2010 will be one of the largest art events in the United States and the world’s most important print-related exposition. Prominent museums and cultural institutions across Philadelphia are participating in Philagrafika 2010, offering regional, national and international audiences the opportunity to see contemporary art that references printmaking in dynamic, unexpected ways and to experience the rich cultural life of the city in the process. The Philagrafika 2010 festival is the result of more than five years of planning by a group of enthusiastic and committed individuals who have mobilized the entire community around a common interest. The Artistic Director and the members of the curatorial team traveled extensively across the country and across continents, visiting studios, print shops, biennials and other art events in search of artists to include. And the administrative staff of Philagrafika, the Artistic Director and the curatorial team have worked closely with local institutions in planning and implementing a wide range of exhibitions, public programs and events, resulting in a citywide collective effort, which appropriately reflects the collaborative nature of printmaking itself.

Read more after the jump.

The festival is divided into 3 components:

The Graphic Unconscious is the core exhibition organized by the Artistic Director and the curatorial team. Works by 35 artists from 18 countries will be displayed across five venues: Moore College of Art & Design; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA); Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Print Center; and Temple Gallery, Tyler School of Art, Temple University; with significant installations by different artists on view at each site.

Out of Print pairs five artists with five historic institutions in Philadelphia: the American Philosophical Society; the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; the Independence Seaport Museum; the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the Rosenbach Museum & Library. Each artist created new work for the festival inspired by the extraordinary collection with which they were matched.

Independent Projects, organized by seventy-five additional cultural institutions in Philadelphia, include a huge variety of monographic, group, and thematic exhibitions in which the printed image plays a central role.

The Philagrafika 2010 festival contends that the printed image lies at the heart of contemporary art. Concepts of imprinting, multiplicity, reproduction, and seriality, as well as physically printed forms are frequently used by artists who do not think of themselves as printmakers. As artistic vocabularies have expanded and mixing media has become commonplace, artists have increasingly drawn from inherent characteristics of the print to achieve specific aesthetic and expressive goals.

The core exhibition, The Graphic Unconscious explores the ubiquitous presence of printed matter in our visual culture and how concepts like accessibility, democratization, dissemination and transience inform diverse contemporary art practices while expanding the realm of printmaking itself. Exposing the print component in sculptural, environmental, performance, pictorial and video works, and highlighting their relevance to contemporary art, is the goal of The Graphic Unconscious.

Walter Benjamin proposed an interesting analogy in his essay, A Small History of Photography (1931): “It is through photography that we first discover the existence of th[e] optical unconscious, just as we discover the instinctual unconscious through psychoanalysis.” Let us ask a provocative question: Is there a print unconscious? If so, where does it lie? Just as printed materials have become so ubiquitous in our daily visual culture that they pass unnoticed, so too have print processes become an integral part of art-making without being acknowledged. Can the ethos of printmaking serve as a framework for understanding contemporary artistic production? Can a close reading of the realm of contemporary art from the perspective of print help illuminate, in some way, our understanding of the world?

Like photography, print is the manifestation of a physical object, but instead of being an emanation of the referent, an imprint gets its indexical quality by physical contiguity: the surface of the print matrix on which the image is made (e.g. woodblock, etching plate, etc.) is in direct contact with the paper (or other surface) onto which the image is printed. Leaving an imprint is the basis of printmaking―the print is the witness of the primeval urge to make one’s mark for posterity. But why leave an imprint? As its physical manifestation, the imprint is the body of the print; might the intention be its soul? Are these tangible and intangible qualities that print embodies what ought to be called the graphic unconscious? These are some of the questions that inspired The Graphic Unconscious exhibition.

Topics explored in the exhibition include:

Pattern and Ornamentation: The multiplication/repetition of an image or text to produce patterns that are applied to various surfaces as ornamentation or embellishment.

Accessibility and Dissemination: The long-standing appeal of inexpensive, mass-produced prints, in the form of posters, broadsides, flyers, etc., as an effective means of raising public interest in social and political struggles and recent innovative adaptations as developments in production and communication technologies have continued to evolve.

Collaboration and Community: The often shared production of printmaking (an artist working with one or more printers, publishers, etc.) that has attracted numerous artists working as collectives, ideally suited to their ambitions to create a sense of community through collaboration.

The authority of the print: The use of existing printed images and texts as iconographical or inspirational sources; the appropriation of printed images; and the implied validation of a text or an image by virtue of its existence “in print.”

Craftsmanship and Aesthetics: The significance of the choice of medium, its intrinsic qualities and the skilled craftsmanship with which it is executed in relation to the artist’s expressive goal; and the translation of the inherent aesthetics of one medium into another.

The print in the public sphere: The key role of print forms and conventions in the circulation of ideas and images that create a public realm and help construct consensus forms such as histories, authorities and individual and community identities.

Jose Roca, Artistic Director, PHILAGRAFIKA 2010; John Caperton, Curator of Prints & Photographs at The Print Center; Sheryl Conkelton, independent curator; Shelley Langdale, Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Lorie Mertes, Director/Chief Curator of the Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design; Julien Robson,Curator of Contemporary Art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), co-curators of “The Graphic Unconscious.”

This post is just a teaser of what is to come. Printeresting is preparing a crack team of shovel-ready reporters in our seemingly futile attempt to bring you coverage of this truly global art event. But don’t take our word for it, click your mouse around the Philagrafika 2010 site and see the impressive array of artists coming, many of whom will be creating site-specific works. Here is a link to the venues for the many related exhibitions, but don’t stop there, check back regularly, the calendar is updated often with new events – there will also be tons of stuff organized by philly’s thriving local print community.

Consider cashing in those frequent flier miles because this spring Philadelphia is going to be looking really printeresting.

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