Maja Rozman: “Prints”

The position of critique, and often that of the artists themselves, toward printmaking is that it is a neglected medium. Paul Coldwell claims that “the role of both print and printmaking within contemporary art practice is increasingly important but often understated”(1). Observing artworks at printmaking manifestations, such as at various biennales or triennials in Europe, and in the rest of the world in general, I hold an opinion that the fact to which printmaking owes its current predicament is that in the context of the contemporary arts and new technologies there were never any serious inquiry into or redefining of the printmaking status. I have noticed how content and concept of the printmaking works (impressions) frequently falls in the background, while authors working in that medium regularly choose motives for their work whose sole purpose is to serve as an excuse for them to demonstrate their technical prowess or use them as a pretext to play with their tools.

In that context my work “Prints” looks at the printmaking medium from personal position, namely that of an author with analytical approach. In my work I use drawing, printmaking, sound, and objects which placed in different relations become parts of my installations in which the process of creation for me is as important as my work of art. In short, like Bruce Nauman, I am of the opinion that a work of art doesn’t include only the technical part of an artwork’s production but also that of questioning the possibility of expression in the work of art and the culture in general(2). I also stand by Kosuth’s idea that “artistic practice locates itself directly in the signifying process and that the use of elements in art proposition (be they objects, quotations, fragments, photographs, context or whatever) functions not for aesthetic purposes…but rather as simply the constructive elements of a test of the cultural code”(3). So, in addition to an artwork’s production alone, I devote my full attention to the process of creation as well and to that of questioning my creative processes and conditions in which one perceives what is considered to be a work of art.

Graeme Cornwell describes printmaking as “a discipline which incidentally but not inadvertently nor ill-advisedly treats technology as more important than imagery in order to define itself”(4). For that reason, I have decided to strip my impressions of their identity, that is to say of motifs, that would in the aforementioned light only serve as a pretext for me to demonstrate my technical prowess. I exhibit “blind” impressions of the matrixes (blind prints), fashioned in relief, intaglio, and planographic printing method, and devote my whole attention to the finishing of the matrixes, to the act of printing, to the selection of the finest and the most adequate type of paper available to me, and naturally to the proper signature of the impressions. At the exhibition I also showcase the tools I used, the objects of adoration of every “real” printmaker, and give them the attention they deserve.

The title “Prints” I have chosen intentionally; it is an often used, generic title for exhibitions of prints which are empty display of pretty-picture and correct craftsmanship, works of which there is not much to say, where an author put in the position of the notary public exhibits an official artistic document (impression), whose authenticity is not validated by way of ideas, but of conventions, and the author’s stamp and signature. Such exhibition is, naturally, complemented with the brochure, which enlightens the undiscerning exhibition-goer about the exhibited content through uninspiring, bland, but nonetheless competent description of the work, as in:

For creating the work exhibited in Karas Gallery Maja Rozman uses relief, intaglio, and planographic printing method.

1 Paul Coldwell, “The Role of Print within Contemporary Art Practice” (paper at the conference: Password: Printmaking, International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC), Ljubljana, Slovenia, 7th March 2014).
2 See Michael Rush, Video Art (London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2003), 76.
3 Rush, Video Art, 72.
4 Graeme Cornwell, “The TECHNO-FETISH in Printmaking” (paper at the symposium: 2nd Australian Print Symposium, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia, 9th-11th December 1992).