In Passing Between, Nathaniel Stern, who exhibited with GALLERY AOP in 2007, has collaborated with Jessica Meuninck-Ganger, conflating traditional printmaking techniques such as woodcut, lithography, etching and screen printing with digital, video and network technologies to create a veritable paradox of static and moving images on paper. Their juxtaposition of anachronistic and disparate methods, materials and content – print and video, paper and electronics, real and virtual – enables novel approaches to understanding each. They work with subject matter ranging from historical portraiture to current events, from artificial landscapes to socially awkward moments.
The two artists met at their first Faculty Meeting in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee in August 2008. They became fast friends and decided to begin collaborative work whilst visiting the Milwaukee Zoo with their kids a few months later. Jessica, a trained and experienced printmaker, wanted to explore new media and Nathaniel wanted to expand the interface of the digital and traditional in art. Together they embarked on a series of ongoing work, collectively called Distill Life, invoking both process and product in art with wit and irony. The exhibition, Passing Between at GALLERY AOP, is the latest in a series of public exposure of their collaboration. Pieces from the Distill Life series have been thus far shown in Massachusetts and Wisconsin, and will feature in Richard Noyce’s upcoming book, Critical Mass: Printmaking Beyond the Edge.
A striking work on the exhibition is called Kinnickinnic, showing an image of the front interior of a car, complete with dashboard, steering wheel and rearview mirror. Kinnickinnic is the main arterial road that runs past and through old sections of the city of Milwaukee towards the highway and the airport. In the artwork, a lithographic image printed on paper actually sit atop a small video screen, ‘animated’ with continuously looping footage showing cartouche-like images through the windshield, and at the same time in the rearview mirror. This recording was produced utilizing two cameras in the front and back of a car, and made while the artists were driving along this famous street. It advertently invokes the Pink Floyd song, “Two suns in the sunset’ from their famous record, The Final Cut : “In my rearview mirror the sun is going down/sinking behind bridges in the road/but suddenly it is day again/the sun is in the east/even though the day is done/two suns in the sunset” and so on. In the same manner as the pop group flouts conventional empirical experiences of time and space in their lyrics, the two artists, Stern and Meuninck-Ganger, play with time and space in Kinnickinnic: the rearview mirror and the work as a whole respectively show what is ahead of them, and what is behind. They capture simultaneously an art form in which time is standing still (the lithographic image of the interior of the car) and an art form in which time is passing (the electronic mimesis of a road trip).
Their double-edged work has been variously likened to a permeable membrane, an animated surface and a continuous loop in the exhaustive essay of the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition. The catalogue also includes a DVD featuring interviews with the artists and video documentation of the series thus far (shot and edited by American filmmaker Sean Kafer, and featuring an original score by English composer Michael Szpakowski). The essay further characterizes Stern and Meuninck-Ganger’s special working process as intertextual, citing and referencing other forms or fields of inquiry or eras of history; as containing various anachronistic elements; and as being elliptical in nature. The exhibition invites intertextual readings of the works; elicits a hunt for the anachronistic treasures in the works; and compels the viewer to complete the elliptical sentences, texts and images on display.
Jessica Meuninck-Ganger is a Milwaukee-based artist. Her prints, artist’s books and large-scale mixed media works have been exhibited in the USA and in the rest of the world. She received her MFA in Studio Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2004 and is currently Head of Printmaking at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA.
Nathaniel Stern is an installation and video artist, net.artist, printmaker and writer. He has had solo exhibitions at various museums, academic institutions, and commercial and experimental galleries worldwide. He obtained his PhD in Art & Technology from Trinity College, Dublin in 2009 and is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Visual Art, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA.