Monday, November 19, 2012

Checkpoint Charlie Drypoints

In the late 70's when I was studying in Germany for six months, I traveled into East Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie.  I remember how nervous I was.  Especially upon returning through the gates back into West Berlin I feared that my one purchase of a hardcover book on Albrecht Durer would be confiscated. The militarization of this liminal zone was stark.  I had heard about the number of people who had tried to cross over the wall from the east and were shot. East Berlin was desolate, and people were not out on the streets.  There was an air of tight surveillance and lack of freedom of movement.  These drypoints are small white ink prints on black paper, sketchily drawn from actual historic images of Checkpoint Charlie.  They are ghostly reminders of the ideological stranglehold that pervaded that time period.  Could they also be somehow familiar even in our present-day politics?


Scorched Earth Policy #2

The natural gas industry is heavily invested in Pennsylvania, and is now hoping to score huge profits as they make headway in New York State.  I have been active in the anti-fracking movement in our region of the Finger Lakes, and have finished a number of pieces that address this issue directly, including the slate pieces, among others.  Below is another attempt to visually explain the circumstances we are facing.  The local history here is complex.  It is geologic, in terms of the glaciers that carved out the whole Finger Lakes region; historic, in terms of the indigenous history of the Haudenosaunee, the 7 tribes of the Iroquois that lived in these rolling hills; economic, in terms of the heavily developed salt mines that spider beneath Seneca Lake in particular; and spatial, in terms of the multi-use agricultural and tourism industries fighting to preserve their livelihood and businesses in the face of a much larger and well-equipped industry who wants to capitalize on the access to the natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation.  Mapping the area where I live is part of my spatial process in "finding Valois".  

Matrix Implacements

Upon the urging of my mentor and advisor I am expanding my spatial practice to the three dimensions using the scroll as the jumping off point.   These are mini-scrolls made from the paper matrices used from making the other scroll pieces.  Each section is inked, then encapsulated in encaustic, and rolled.  They are then suspended, or floated, on the wall by pinning them with a push pin.  I am excited about the possibilities of these reconfigured landscapes, by what they seem to hide.

Palestine Envelopes

Some weeks ago I started a series of small vellum envelope pieces that dealt with the Palestinian issue.  I have reworked some of these more fully, adding encaustic and china marker to enhance the feeling of  obfuscation and missing information.  Here are a few of these pieces reworked. With the current conflagration in the West Bank, these pieces seem particularly relevant in terms of understanding cultural differences and establishing identity in a shared place.

Envelopes: 3" x 3" vellum envelopes, encaustic, graphite, charcoal, printouts from the internet

Mexican/USA border

The Japanese and Chinese use the form of the scroll for visual narratives. I have incorporated the scroll in a number of new pieces dealing with place.  I am currently developing a larger, more expanded version of this piece in a more sculptural way, but for now here is the the border wall in the form of a scroll printed with woodblocks incorporating signage prohibiting entry.

Mexican Border Wall: 1' x 12',  three repeated woodblocks printed on Sumi scroll paper.

Contested Borders

Here I have implaced sixteen regions from around the world as fragmented sections of countries in a chalkboard map.  All these countries have contested (or currently contesting) their shared borders: North and South Sudan, Palestine and Israel, USA and Mexico, Japan and China, North and South Korea. These liminal sites and their peripheral boundaries define cultures, and represent our attachment to land and our sense of identity that is intimately connected to place. These implacements embody the cultural, historical, and spatial complexities of sharing place.

Contested Borders: 4 x 4', acrylic paint, encaustic, charcoal, china marker, gloss gel medium transfer on prepared cradled board


A Matter of Place

Landscape is about place. The matter of place is central to my spatial practice, whether my own backyard and neighborhood, the Finger Lakes region of New York State, or places around the world with contested borders, including Palestine, Mexico, or Europe or Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Edward Casey, a phenomenologist philosopher who teaches at SUNY Stonybrook, in his most recent three books, have given me a foundation on which to visually address the matter of place.  Spatial dialectics, memory, history, and self-identity all come into play.  The following images are examples of where my interests are headed.  I see them as exploratory and experimental, and hope they convey aspects of the important placial issues that concern living on this planet.

Slate Series: oil-based ink on slate, variable sizes, displayed on the floor

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ongoing Projects

I met with my mentor Cameron Martin in NYC last weekend.  I brought a number of new pieces, many of which are still in process. Expanding the use of the multiple in printmaking, these pieces are largely based on video stills that are manipulated in Photoshop and printed in a scroll format using a lithographic process called gum transfer. The outcome is a  disjointed, dystopic narrative which follows views that do not necessarily follow a chronological pacing, but rather reveal a perception of a landscape as incomplete, mysterious, and obfuscated.  I am also continuing to explore other surfaces like slate for drawing, and folding paper and stuffing them into translucent windowed envelopes that reveals partial information about contested landscapes of the world, including Palestine, the Mexican border, and the Berlin Wall. I am also experimenting with different ways of presentation to communicate the connections between perception and landscapes with historic meaning.   Here are some quick snapshots of these projects:

Birkenau Sights Horizontal Scroll

Finding Valois Vertical Scroll

Hands--first layer for a large 4 x 4' piece about contested landscapes

Implacement Series of Envelopes about Contested Landscapes

Rig Horizontal Scroll 

Scorched Earth multi-media drawing

Rig Drawing on Shale