ABETARE – Petrit Halilaj

 

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ABETARE – Petrit Halilaj – Wallpaper installation, scans from a book

There was a special focus on the book, as an object and as inspiration, in this year’s Venetian Biennale di Arte. Christine Macel, Curator of the 57th International Art Exhibition, even referred to the nine main sections of the exhibition as chapters.  The Pavilion of Artists and Books, rooted in an exploration of artistic practice, opens with works that illustrate the continuum of  otium and negotium, idleness and action, the fits and starts of intuitive creative production.

The pavilion, there’s no physical separation between the conceptual pavilions they flow into each other room to room, highlights artists’ relationship with books and knowledge as both inspiration and object.

Halilaj’s piece is a deconstructed a book spread over the surface of a few walls.

A digitally printed wallpaper is made from images of pages from Halilaj’s childhood alphabet book. Ubiquitous across cultures, alphabet books are used to teach children the basics of language as well as a social behavior and norms, two kinds of knowledge imparted.

The original book was passed from family to family in an effort to protect cultural identity during a time of oppression and lack. Reproducing the pages in this way, across a wall, in ABETARE the information is disseminated all at once, urgently, as an announcement across the viewer field of vision. There is a radical nature to exposing information that was once passed hand to hand to avoid detection.

The images are printed on a plasticky vinyl maybe, self adhered to the wall. The all-over-ness and encompassing environment is disrupted only by the work’s location in a hallway to the bathroom.

Again, again, over and over – that’s when it starts to get interesting.

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Dear John

“Schoenberg said that everything is repetition – even variation. On the other hand, we can say that repetition doesn’t exist, that two leaves of the same plant are not repetitions of each other but are unique. Or two bricks on the building across the street are different. And when we examine them closely, we see that they are indeed different in some respect, if only in the respect of how they receive light, because they are at different points in space. In other words, repetition really has to do with how we think. And we can’t think either that things are being repeated or that they are not being repeated. If we think that things are being repeated, it is generally because we don’t pay attention to all of the details. But if we pay attention as though we were looking through a microscope to all of the details, we see that there is no such thing as repetition.”   —  John Cage

 

Oh, John.

I taught a four week workshop in Venice this past summer and while there multiples and copies were in the forefront of my mind.

Last year I presented a paper at Mid-America Print Council’s conference, Modes of the Multiple – I talked about variation and repetition as pursuits in art. I wrapped painting, photography, prints, GIFS, and Book Arts into my talk. Writing the paper inspired me to continue to collect ideas, reference points, artworks, and theories about multiples.

This process of collecting ideas and artworks has gotten kinda unwieldy, crossing from conversations and note taking to fully formed thoughts. So I thought I’d start setting down some of my collection here in a series of blog posts.

While collecting I expanded my definition of reproducible media from image and mark replication (printmaking / photography) to include all forms of mechanical object making. It was an intuitive expansion, probably the result of being raised at Penland School of Crafts where different media easily crawl all over each other in a happy jumble,

The concepts play out in different forms: casting (metal, clay, glass), digital and analog printing, digital fabrication, repeat patterns, Xerographic printing, publications / book art and design, paper-making, textiles, photography, graphic design, product design, and more.

If I cast (ha! pun!) a wide net for conceptual links there are really interesting relationships between all reproducible media:the multiple, seriality, intermediary process, copy/original, replication, sequence, transference of mark, plurality, industrialization, and standardization… to name just a few.

And so it was with that eye that I first approached my art viewing this past summer. It helped me to clarify for myself, to find the edges, and some of my main questions about what can be included in reproducible media. Does it include collaged ephemera? Performance? What about the daily tides of the sea?

Starting here are some of the threads I’ve been gathering as a  basis for understanding this large subsection of artistic practice – Reproducible Media.

Again, again, over and over – that’s when it starts to get interesting.

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