10 June 2011

Graeme Cornwell's New York Residency

I received this email recently from Graeme Cornwell describing his recent residency in New York.
Graeme was happy for me to share it with you NZ Printmakers, so I hope you enjoy reading it too:

New York, New York - Print Installation - Temporary Residency 2
"The first I heard of the Prawat Laucharoen Print Installation residency was when
Australian / New Zealand curator and writer Anne Kirker contacted me in October 2010
asking if I was interested in a catalogue she was writing about a
‘fantastic but intense print residency’ she had been involved with in Manhattan.
I said that I was interested, imagining a fat catalogue would soon arrive in the mail.
Instead, everything went silent until I received an email about 8 months later
from Prawat Laucharoen himself inviting me to the Manhattan Residency Programme
in April 2011. At first I thought his email was a hoax or even worse: Spam.
However after thoroughly investigating the email,
I realised that it was indeed a genuine invitation from a truly outstanding
American Master Printer (of Erwin Hollander Press fame).
So without hesitation, I accepted.

The artists that had been invited to the residency were all very interesting
with a strong international flavour:
Tomie Arai (Japanese New Yorker), Skowmon Hastanan (Thai New Yorker),
Prawat Laucharoen (Thai New Yorker), Maki Kuulei Morinoue (Japanese Hawaiian),
Marcia Pasqua (American Hawaiian), Sutthirat Supaparinya (Thai National)
and of course yours truly (New Zealand).

Manhattan is thoroughly worthwhile the jet-lag and small effort to get there;
it is vibrantly exciting, stimulating, quite safe, and friendly (overwhelmingly so at times).
Prawat Laucharoen’s residence is a loft located midway between the bottom end
of Central Park and the southernmost tip of Manhattan Island.
We were so close to New York’s major Chelsea Gallery area,
 well as China Town, SoHo, Greenwich Village, Little Italy,
Union Square (the site of Andy Warhol’s ‘Factory’),
and got to visit the Guggenheim, MOMA and The Metropolitan.
Prawat’s could not be located in a better place.
Prawat also took us to see important art sites close to Manhattan,
Such as Dia Beacon, a minimalist museum
(including works by Louise Bourgoeis, Sol le Wit and Richard Sierra, to name just a few)
and Storm King, a sculptural park on the outskirts of New York
containing works of key sculptors of the 20th Century. What a Blast!!!!
My habit was to visit galleries in Chelsea and other Manhattan sites in the morning;
in the early afternoon we would travel to Horace Mann
(the studio and gallery where we worked and exhibited),
and to stay working in the studio till late evening.
Then we would all travel back in Prawat’s car, visiting an array of markets
buying meat, vegetables, wines, and other delicious delectables on the way home.
Prawat whose culinary skills were prodigious would insist on cooking us amazing meals
while we would talk all night long all the while plied with excellent wines and tid-bits.
Conversations were never dull, with many stimulating ideas and cultures exchanged
in the heady atmosphere created by Prawat’s special aromas and culinary concoctions.
Eating was definitely a highlight of the residency.

The piece that I produced for the residency was not a print in any traditional sense
but an environmental and site-specific piece, to meet the brief: Print in the Expanded Field!
Entitled Indecipherable Script - A Scribbled Letter Sent To The Philistines,
it consisted of a cone approximately 2 meters in height
made of light wood and covered in brown paper.
This cone contained water which dripped from its point.

As the water dripped, the cone, suspended on a pulley system with a counter weight,
would slowly lighten, rising to the ceiling over a period of about 8 hours.
Water from the dripping cone landed on a pile of newspapers (
The New York Financial Times)
and digging its way into the pile eventually soaking the pile of printed paper with water.
Embedded in the pile of paper were seeds (appropriately named ‘
Liquid Sunshine’ grass seed).
Over the period of three weeks the seed sprouted and began to grow over the pile of newspaper.

While creating an installation and taking part in an exhibition
was one of the major considerations of this residency
what I got from the residency was much more than an opportunity to consider
the challenging concept of ‘Print In The Expanded Field’.
But this residency was successful in other ways for me as well.
As a result of the residency I met several dealers and artists
and I was offered yet another opportunity to participate in a group show
in New York at Chelsea’s CATM Gallery.

But even more than this for me this residency was an opportunity to discover Manhattan,
to make contact with a part of me I did not know existed before I went to Manhattan,
to tune in to fleeting ideas, to engage with contemporary artists,
see innovative artists scrabbling their way through the morass of inventive humanity,
in the company of the really interesting and exciting artists
that Prawat Laucharoen was inspired to collect together.
In short it was the opportunity to engage in
the evolving social sculptural organism which is New York.
Is this thriving conceptually dynamic social sculpture 'print in the expanded field'? I say Yes."

I think this is very interesting and I'm looking forward to seeing more of Graeme's work
and seeing how this might influence ideas of other NZ printmakers
to explore an expanded field of ideas and practice in print.

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