Fremantle Print Award – Review


Opening night. We wait outside the gates, waiting to get in. People have waited here to get out, to escape custody. Women incarcerated dubiously. We wait to see our Art Centre Print Award.

Gates open, go, go, stay, stay. Is this the original Art Centre, does renovation make it a copy. My friend asks as we walk, about, Is this a print? There is always a little chat about, Is this a print?

It’s a print if, like art in general, you or the artist, or the critic, or a bystander, says it is a print… what is art? what is life? Should we be asking, is this a traditional print, before post modernity, but even then, many ‘etchings’ were scratching, no acid-made marks.

Then came Andy Warhol, popularising screen prints from industry. Not a print off a plate or a litho stone, you could screenprint a photo or an anything. No jokes about printing or cursive writing.

So we are at print, the expanded version, into a broader definition, a contemporary excursion into art. Fremantle Print Award has always lead print into multi-meanings, where it lives between the original and the original, the space of either/or, maybe both either and or. Doppelgängers. A space which contains the elements of meaning, narrative and understanding. Now, how to comprehend an edition, looking in two facing mirrors, reflections of reflections, all exactly the same, almost…

Perhaps we are all prints, in a variable edition, from our shared DNA? So, performance is acceptable, fits in, part of today’s print world? And there is some documentation of performance here, though art always is evidence of what the artist did, isn’t it?

In the first hall, the main hall, the cost, of being, of living, of existence, stop motions. Almost fortified courtyard views through the small window (who looks out, who looks in, in a history of detention). Folds, forever, and however in the distance, exquisite reveals of collaboration and time in bush lands, multi layers of matter, the stranded ghosts shadowed, isolated, silent.

The main room, back in one of my three favourite ‘public’ rooms in Fremantle, the albatross flies again, the mechanical maps whirr – a cartographers dream, tannin soaks into lines and other incidental forms, books and books of place names that rename places that already have names, ice melts and the moon shines.

My friend goes on, what about a photograph, print in the digital era, a found print, a newspaper repurposed. Each person, each biobody? Is a drawing a print, what about a photo of a drawing, a digital matrix, a film? you could make a case? so, an opera…

The accidental, the performative, the sculptural, the mechanical, the plein air, climate emergency. Is beauty here, is it not here?

Seaweed as a planet lifesaver hovers by the door into adjoining space, Maserati roars burns and burnouts, digital image and model motel as breakfast arrives through the delivery hatch, ‘hearth’ installed on a wall frame emanating midway through the old original hearth (some instal magic), and identity emerges from satin digitals, shimmering.

As far as I’m aware, a performance hasn’t won the print award, yet. But videos are here, of people doing stuff, so maybe soon. Or a dance…

As always, a sprawling, noisy, exciting exposition of print now, rushing on to a future future.

* By our Art Crit GK


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