Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) Print Studio collaborated with Barbadian-Scottish multimedia artist Alberta Whittle over several months in summer 2019 to develop new printed works in conjunction with her DCA exhibition ‘How Flexible Can We Make the Mouth’.
Taking as a premise that printmaking is a practice of action as well as documentation, this paper will examine how the materiality, dialogues and live processes of the collaborative print studio are implicit in the relational meaning of the material outcomes of this project. Using an ethnographic approach and observations from within the Print Studio to highlight underlying semiotic structures within print practice, I will consider the collaborative process as a transitional space, where participatory experimentation and social exchanges are translated into the material language of the final print.
During the collaborations of the print studio staff with Alberta Whittle, the print matrix became a site for mediation in both a social and structural sense, acting as an intermediary between action and documentation, as both transmitter and receiver during this creative partnership.
Specifically, this paper will focus on the development of Whittle’s series of prints titled ‘Secreting Myths’, starting with dialogues around her artistic concepts of transience, breath, speech, healing, the documentation of historic narratives, ‘slippage’ and the unfixed nature of things. Through processes using snail trails through to the 16th century engravings of Theodor de Bry, I will explore the language in print developed and used by the artist to re-open, ‘un-fix’ and subvert accepted ‘histories’ of the European colonisation of a so-called ‘New World.’