Record Keepers

Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art
Harrisonburg, VA
October 23 – December 1, 2018

Curated by Artist and Master-printer, Anna Hoberman from New York City and John Ros, Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art Director and Chief Curator, the exhibit focuses on artists who strive to preserve current events and historical ones within our social landscape by-way-of the edition and working with multiples.

Featured artists include: Alix Lambert, Allan McCollum, Aurora De Armendi, Azikiwe Mohammed, Elizabeth Moran, Emma Nishimura and Jo Baer. Artwork by Francisco Goya and Robert Rauschenberg will also be on view to help provide historical context for this contemporary exhibit.

A print, by simple definition, is an impression created from a matrix — a mold in which something is cast, shaped, programmed or recorded. The most significant characteristic of a print is the possibility for multiple impressions. An edition holds power in numbers and the ability to be distributed widely. Unlike other types of art, a print can exist in multiple places at the same time. The ease of dissemination links the medium to politics, social movements, revolt and revolutions, testifying to the existence of events within a period of time. A print is a powerful artifact that documents the culture in which it was created by and for.

An early example of print medium being used for social commentary is Franciso Goya’s Los Capricious (The Whims), a series of etchings created in the 18th century. Goya’s prints are a satirical exploration of the dark underside of Spanish society and the ruling class. Goya has described the work as depicting, "the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance or self-interest have made usual.” With Los Capricious and other works at this time, Goya took etching and social commentary to an extreme seldom reached before.

Prints enable artists to share their work and perspectives throughout the world. From posters and manifestoes, to clothing and banners, if it can be multiplied, then it can be distributed and simultaneously a dissemination and documentation has begun. Record Keepers is a group exhibition composed of contemporary “print” artists, who strive to present/preserve current and historical events via their editions. Record Keepers looks at print as a contemporary way of editioning content and playing with traditional ways of researching and printing. The documentation of our social landscape becomes a key underlaying theme throughout all artists in the exhibit.

Elizabeth Moran’s (b. Houston, TX; lives Brooklyn, NY) Farewell!2009-2011, is a compilation of goodbye emails from an advertising firm that she worked for during the end of the recession. The emails are portraits of co-workers and friends and become a unique way of documenting a point in time when layoffs where a frequent occurrence. Moran conceals the names of the Farewell writer, but keeps the date and timestamp of the sender's letter. The emails are shown in chronological order to add another layer to the story that is unfolded with each goodbye.

Read the full essay.