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Printmaking and the language of violence


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Rees-Pagh, Yvonne 2013 , 'Printmaking and the language of violence', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The aim of the project is to demonstrate that the traditional processes of printmaking, in
particular etching, are relevant as a medium for artistic engagement with the subject of
violence. My research investigates how printmaking has developed its own unique
visual language as a means of addressing violence in our society, and specifically how
artists have depicted violence using the medium of printmaking.
To provide a context for my own practice, I examine artists from the past such as
Jacques Callot, Francisco Goya, Käthe Kollwitz, Otto Dix and Pablo Picasso, all of
whom engaged with the medium of etching to convey violence, as well as the work of
contemporary artists Leon Golub, Nancy Spero, William Kentridge, Diane Victor,
Sandow Birk, and Jake and Dinos Chapman which addresses issues such as war,
social unrest and abuse of political power. The tradition of socio-political printmaking in
Australia is also briefly examined, revealing a relative lack of contemporary artists in
this field dealing with the theme of violence. This research informed the directions for
my own work.
My own work began by addressing global violence issues. Experimentation with
unconventional materials and processes formed an integral part of the journey. The
resultant effects from this experimentation were layered into and became part of the
work. The focus of my final work is on social violence in Australia, in particular the
Cronulla riots of 2005. Thousands of people were involved in these riots, making them
the largest racially motivated riots in Australian history.
The major work, The Cronulla Riot, is a large etching completely covering the gallery
wall. My intention is to emphasise the chaos of the riot, imparted through the layers of
figurative imagery, imbuing a sense of time. The scale of the work enables the viewer
to feel immersed in the violence. The work challenges traditional printmaking
boundaries by virtue of scale, methodology and subject matter.
The power of etching, using a painstaking autographic process, has given new life to
the theme of violence; an issue not explored in the medium in relation to the Cronulla
riots by any other contemporary Australian artist. The core technology of etching may
be ancient, but it continues to present the contemporary artist with a powerful and
dynamic medium for personal artistic expression.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Rees-Pagh, Yvonne
Keywords: Printmaking, etching, violence, racism, Cronulla
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