In such texts a print is crammed into an oversimplifying hierarchy of “art/non-art”, being presented as a relatively accessible material trace of an artist meant for someone's private gaze in the space of a living room, a kitchen or a bedroom.
However, there are practitioners who look at printmaking from a completely different angle – from the procedural side of it, and see printmaking as a performative practice. This allows to avoid defining printmaking as production of a material result symbolically presenting the “artist's flesh” to be sold and bought. For example, there is the British duo Henningham Family Press
, who define their practice as performative printmaking.
Henningham Family Press is a duo of David and Ping Henningham. They work in England and create collaborations and events with musicians and other artists, bringing the process of printmaking to the public space and involving the audience to participate. Once they came to Moscow and held a performance
dedicated to how Shakespeare’s love lyrics is perceived in different cultures. The performance took place at the British Council stand during the 2017 Non/Fiction Book Fair. What was the essence of this performance?
First, the duo held a workshop at the British Higher School of Art and Design, where students came up with glyphs that combine the shapes of letters denoting similar sounds in Russian and English: f/ф, m/м – and so on. Then the resulting glyphs were used to create words in response to the texts of Shakespeare’s love poetry. These words from the invented glyphs were printed on a silkscreen printing press in the stencil technique at the British Council stand. Some of the words were offered by visitors of the fair: “coral”, “spring”, “betrayal”, “dream”, “goodbye”, etc. Each word was a graphic sheet with symbols divided by color depending on whether the syllable is stressed or unstressed – after all, rhythm is very important for the poetry of Shakespeare. Then the sheets were combined into a long concertina to get rhythmically organized lines of a graphic poem, which, when translated into Russian, sounded like this: