Lecture at 6th ENDEGRA meeting in Skövde Tidaholm: Nina Bondeson

The art of printmaking & printed pictures distribute visions, stories & testimonies. It is language, communication. Looking back in history, we can see that through our cultural heritage we have formed a readiness to communicate in images. And in it´s multiplication, the printed image has a strong force. The vast commercial use of printed images that surround us today is not a random coincidence. But imagery has many faces and it´s terms in art differ from the commercial. In art the communication is questingly complex where commercial image-communication wants to convince a buyer. It´s concern is to make the first impulse from a visual message urge our desire. No more, end of story, mission completed, on their part. And we all get that first impulse looking at an image. Because the visual is connected to our inherent, natural language ability. A complex art communication, like any other complicated human activity, does not offer effortless understanding. The first impulse from an image is just the beginning. To get passed it you need training. Just as you need training to learn how to read and write. In the western language situation, the visual part is one of heavy weight, but in a very contradictory way, it is constantly treated as insignificant because it is not recognized as part of our language abilities. It has an inherent interactive capability, but is often assumed to call for but a passive reception, as something we can use in a liesurely way or disregard all together and consequently, our elementary schools are not committed to make us ”literate” in reading & writing images. Therefor most people have great difficulties when it comes to visual interpretation. And yet, due to our inherited readiness for this communication; and given a chance, it doesn´t take much to understand the principles and from there you can devote the rest of your life to develop & deepen the possibilities that opens before us in this artmaking. So, when we deal with visual art in the artefactual art tradition, that printmaking is part of, we deal with both an immediate availability and great complexity. As printmakers in art we work in the knowledge system of Practical Artefactual Artmaking. We use our hands, we use different materials, tools, methods and techniques to create or process artefacts/prints to have them carry meaning that can communicate aside from verbal language. We do not need to be aware of the theories that try to explain and understand this work to be able to participate in the artmaking. What we do need is a context, adequate actingspaces, some encouragement and response to our communicative attempts, which is no more than we do to develop any language. If we leave the actual making, however, to try to describe, analyse and understand why and how we do it, how it relates to the rest of the world etc, then, theories, concepts and explanations are very useful. Then, we cannot do without them. But we don´t need to theorize to be able to make great art. Before the conceptual break through in art, verbal articulation of the artistic experience was not called for in the artefactual artmaking. This is not to be seen as an insufficiency in the actual artmaking, but it can be experienced or met as an insufficiency in relation to the dominant over-confidence that our time has developed in theoretical analysis and textual understanding of both life and art. Though the time we live in is over-occupied with text & analytic reflection, the creation of meaning is not. Never has been. It has many different ways to explore what this life is about. And: ”this life cannot be all there is to know about it” (poet Ragnar Strömberg) Therefor we can state that a theoretical interest in the practice can be both useful and rewarding, but it is not the precondition for the practice itself. But to make space for the actual making of art is difficult today. To get hold of education or necessary co-funding for the practical work, you have to present it in text since practical knowledge is subordinated and has no self-evident position in the contemporary textuality. And higher art education has long left an unjustifiable big part of material based artistic knowledge production aside, in favor of text as the main material to create meaning. Without being the least bit hostile to textual creating of meaning as such, quite the opposite, I still oppose this prevailing hegemony & critisize it for being too un-democratic: oversized, biased & narrow-minded. I advocate a pluralistic attitude that acknowledges the whole spectrum of what is really going on in the arts & also reaches outside of the arts. ”We are simultaniously both products and producers of the culture we live in. But we seldom regard the value or function of our labour.” (Sarah Charlesworth) Art should not be held in a professionalized isolation the way we see today, where it has become the concern for a disconnected ”cultural sector” separated from the rest of our daily lives. Artmaking in what is often said to be a ”knowledge society”, must house all kinds of artistic knowledge production. And it is when printmakers have ”their hands in the ink” that they shape and develop the preconditions for printmaking and in that work lies it´s contribution to the communicative pluralism which is a nessecity for a reasonable and democratic society. Freedom of expression, freedom of speech, a free press, free art. These are all connected to printmaking and they are all language issues as well as issues of great political importance. Especially today when we see fascism re-mobalize, given the possibility to exploit the justified frustration that globalized neo-liberal politics have generated during the last 40 years. It is from this understanding that I see our Journey Man Walk project develop. Art and language. Availability and complexity. The knowledge production, the practice based work and the political importance. The core is of course the practice based work: from the different techniques, tools, methods & materials employed from centuries back to their nutritious comtemporary cooperation with the latest digital possibilities. The profound knowledge, that the workshops involved master, is the founding base for a mobile education system that will acknowledge and offer access to advanced knowledge production in printmaking in the multi-cross-fertilized realm of artefactual artmaking & communication. We need not be shy. What we do has to do with the significance that a free art has for democracy and the significance that democracy has for a free art.

Comments, as perceived by Björn Therkelson, made i in Marbodal Center , Tidaholm, Sweden, on the Journeyman’s Walk (JW) talk 15th of August 2014 during the 6th Endegra Meeting.

Comments, as perceived by Björn Therkelson, made i in Marbodal Center , Tidaholm, Sweden, on
the Journeyman’s Walk (JW) talk 15th of August 2014
during the 6th Endegra Meeting.

What was commented on, was the ideas of the Journeyman’s Walk project as described by the working group. The purpose of the talk was to ensure a qualified and representative application for funding from EU with deadline 1st of October 2014. A number of workshops and their capacities must be briefly described in the application.

An answer from EU can be expected in Dec. -14 or Jan -15 and the actual exchange might, in case of a favorable outcome, begin in May-Dec 2015.

My summing up: The ideas of the working group were endorsed with acclaim by the present assembly. There were subordinate points of discussion about the ensuing implementation.

Assessing authorities within the EU require a verbal substructure, something we, as pictorial artists , consider useful but not fundamental. Our times are overloaded with texts and analysis.

However, as so many nowadays have difficulties reading imagery, we find it necessary to introduce a development of education on seeing and reading pictures, just as we already learn reading and writing verbal expressions. Visual perception is in humans neurologically connected to learning languages. Imagery, and graphic arts, is communication.

At least three countries are to cooperate. Grafik i Väst in Gothenburg, Sweden, Fyns Grafiske Verkstæd in Odense, Denmark and Grafikwerkstatt Dresden in Dresden, Germany, constitute the project board for planning and decisions. They are also the ones to sign the application. A long line of workshops are associated coproducers and then there are the Journeypersons.

We are creating a system which can send a paid graphic artists 1-3 weeks to a workshop and economically compensate also a person to receive and handle the visit. One such event makes up a JW module.

Minimum requirements for a module could be:

1 working place

2 teacher

3 maybe an accommodation. This point was questioned on the ground that boarding should not be our task, we must focus on knowledge development and art making.

The modules should be flexible and not standardized, so that different needs about i.e. preexisting experience and length of stay can be met.

The workshops decide about whom to send.

The result of the process will be:

1.High quality prints

2.Knowledge feedback to sending as well as receiving workshop concerning printing techniques and concerning the workshops, preferably in the form of written reviews, diaries or blogs. A line of such reports could form a database. Exchange of knowledge was stressed. The traveling artists must not only learn but also teach or otherwise render knowledge.

3.Certificates, stating what has taken place. This point was however questioned, due to the dissimilar conditions of the workshops and to the need for criteria for such certificates.

The JW project aims at development of knowledge, not of economy in the first place.

60% of a module are to be financed by EU and 40% must be financed otherwise. EU can give maximum € 200k each second or each fourth year. Grafik i Väst is suggested to handle the monetary flow, to redistribute funds. A cost for administration should be budgeted.

Questions were raised about what kind and what size of workshops should be counted in, how open the process should be (Can only members of a workshop be journeymen, does the possibility apply to all kinds of artists and to artisans as well?), what kind of teaching and what kind of science (?) should be adapted. Are younger artists due to lack of experience in a position to teach or do their need of being taught dominate?

Which workshops should come in question? The importance of supporting small workshops was stressed. The representatives of Ålgården, the artists workshops and gallery, were introduced. KKV-Gbg (Artists’ Collective Workshop of Gothenburg) wish, according to a decision of their board, to participate.

Descriptions of workshops:
We need a pattern, a template for descriptions of the workshops and their respective resources in order to be able to choose between them. This should be done before the month of May 2015 when the actual traveling might begin. It was suggested that each workshop submit a Letter of Intent (LoF) with 3-4, max. 5 points.

In he US a similar system to JW already exists. We must avoid being subjected to rules governing schools. We must remember to distinguish ourselves from the AIR (Artist in Residence) concept

Björn T.

About Medieverkstan Skaraborg (MS)

Medieverkstan Skaraborg (MS) tillkom 2003 för att utveckla konsten inom Skaraborgs tretton kommuner.
Verkstan vill skapa förutsättningar för konstnärligt eller kulturellt arbete med digitala verktyg och att erbjuda digitala redskap som p.g.a. investeringskostnader är svåra att skaffa privat. Medieverkstan vill också förmedla fördjupad kunskap om digitala medier till sina medlemmar och till allmänheten, samt vara en mötesplats för olika kulturella yrkesgrupper.

MS köpte Sveriges första Epson 7800-skrivare, vilken med åren kommit att utkristallisera sig som centrum för vår verksamhet. Vi har dessutom gjort ett stort antal utställningar med digital konst i fokus, ett nationellt seminarium, Digimage och i olika sammanhang representerat det digitala som konstnärligt verktyg.

Vi har fått stöd från flertalet av Skaraborgs kommuner och från Västra Götalandsregionen.

Björn Therkelson, ordförande

Media Workshop Skaraborg (MS) was established in 2003 to develop the arts within Skaraborgs thirteen municipalities.
The workshop tries to improve conditions for artistic or cultural work with digital tools and is set to offer qualified digital tools when they are too costly fort private acquisition. MS also want to convey deeper knowledge of digital media to its members and to the public, as well as being a venue for various cultural professionals.
MS bought Sweden’s first Epson 7800 printer, which over the years has emerged as the center of our activities. We have also made a large number of exhibitions with digital art in focus, a national seminar, Digimage, and in different contexts represented the digital as an artistic tool.
We have received support from the majority of Skaraborgs municipalities and the Region Västra Götaland.

Bjorn Therkelson, Chairman