Saturday, November 26, 2011

Veiled Curtains
Fine-Art Prints Series (Silkscreen)

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This blogspot is not only devoted to ArtCloth and all things fabric (e.g. wearables) but also to limited edition prints on paper and artists' printmakers books. I have listed below for your convenience my contribution to this artistic genre.

Made to Order
Unique State (Partners in Print)
Wangi's Djiran:"Unique State" Prints
A Letter to a Friend
Beyond the Fear of Freedom
Travelling Solander Project
Star Series
Cry for the Wilderness
Federation on Hold - Call Waiting
Wish You Were Where?
The Four Seasons

I have always combined my passions. My prints on cloth techniques inform my prints on paper techniques and vice versa (where such overlaps are possible). Hence I developed my Matrix Formatting and Low Relief Screen Printing (LRSP) techniques for prints on paper and then modified and transferred these technique for usage on cloth.

One of my other signature techniques for prints on paper I have termed "Multiplexing". It involves careful application of resists to numerous color plates, transparent color glazes, multiple layering of printed images and accurate registration. It is an extremely complex and time intensive technique, which works "best" on paper.

Veiled Curtains
Limited Edition Prints on Paper Series
Although the culture of the non-aligned countries is normally male dominated, the following women; Indira Ghandi, Aung San Suu Kyi and Benazir Bhutto, led their people in times of crisis. Each of these women were popular with their constituents. Each one of them was either assassinated or at one point in time, imprisoned. All had come from families, which had a rich political history and their families were revered. All gained early experience living amongst politicians and watching their fathers or husbands at work. They capitalized on their families popularity in order to reform their country, to better prepare the population for what they perceived would be the next stage in their nation’s development. Needless to say, the conservative forces within their nation attempted to modify or destroy their vision.

The series has been designed using the format of a stamp. Stamps depict the national identity of a country. Pictorial and commemorative issues usually depict historical figures or generalized subjects and seldom represent the specific contemporary themes that lend themselves to controversial political statements. Hence, this series highlights issues, through these women leaders, that their dynasties provided transitional leadership as their countries developed political systems - more often than not, to replace colonial rule. Yet while they have helped to build or restore democracy at some stage of their country’s history, they have subsequently failed to do much more. In the case of Aung San Suu Kyi, the struggle is still continuing; she is contesting the upcoming Myanmar by-elections.

The limited edition series is held at The University Of Newcastle Print Collection and in private collections. Veiled Curtains - Indira II is held in the following collections: Australian Print Council (Australia), London Print Studios (UK), Printmaking Collective Workshop, Chicago (USA), Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (Australia).

Some editions are available for purchase. Each print in the series is 56 cm (width) x 76 cm (length).

Veiled Curtains: Indira

Indira Ghandi, (1917 - 1984), was Prime Minister of India (and the first woman Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world), in 1966 - 77 and 1980 - 84. In 1964, the year of her father’s (Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru) death, Indira Ghandi was elected to Parliament where she held the position of Minister of Information and Broadcasting. Unable to agree on contenders for the position of Prime Minister, she was later picked as a compromise candidate. She held the office of Prime Minister from 1966 - 77. She was riding on the crest of popularity after India’s triumph in the 1971 war against Pakistan. The explosion of a nuclear device in 1974 helped to enhance her reputation among the middle-class as a tough and shrewd political leader.

In the second, post-emergency period of her Prime Ministership, Indira Ghandi was preoccupied by efforts to resolve the problems in the state of Punjab. In her attempt to crush the secessionist movement of Sikh militants, she ordered an assault upon the holiest Sikh shrine in Amritsar, the ‘Golden Temple’. It is because of this attack on the Temple that Sikh militants waged their campaign of terrorism against the government. In June 1984, the Golden Temple was stripped clean of Sikh terrorists. However, the Temple was damaged and Mrs Ghandi earned the undying hatred of Sikhs, who bitterly resented the desacralization of their sacred site. In November 1984, she was assassinated at her residence by two of her own Sikh bodyguards, who claimed to be avenging the insult she had heaped upon their nation.

Images in the print show Indira flanked by her spiritual mentor, Mahatma Ghandi, on the right, who was assassinated during his term in office and, on the left, her son, Rajiv Ghandi who, whilst on the 1991 campaign trail, was killed by a bomb blast. Mahatma Ghandi made himself the force of non violence whilst Rajiv’s period in office was marred by scandals and allegations of corruption. The trio are framed in a Hindu Temple entrance outline and the overall print/stamp is encased in a deconstructed Indian paisley border design.

The temple curtain in the background highlights iconic symbolism associated with Idira’s terms of office as Prime Minister. Guns depict her internal exploitation and use of the army to resolve internal disputes. The use of the army greatly increased during her time. A nuclear mushroom depicts her explosion of a nuclear device in 1974.

A section of the Sikh’s Golden Temple depicts her attempt to crush the secessionist movement of Sikh militants whilst destroying and desacrilizing their sacred site. The flower images depict her assination in the garden of her home by her two Sikh bodyguards.

Veiled Curtains: Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi (1945 - ) has become an international symbol of heroic and peaceful resistance against military rule. She advocates freedom and democracy for the country now called Myanmar, a name chosen by the present military dictatorship. For the Burmese people she represents their best and perhaps sole hope that one day there will be an end to the country’s military oppression. In 1991, while under house arrest, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in trying to bring democracy to Burma.

For many of the years since she returned to Burma from overseas, she has been under house arrest in the capital, Rangoon. She was initially under house arrest for six years, until she was released on 10th July 1995. She was again put under house arrest in September 2000 when she tried to travel to the central northern city of Mandalay in defiance of travel restrictions. However on the 6th May 2002 she was released unconditionally following secretive talks with the military junta.

Images in the print show Suu Kyi with her father, the independence hero, General Bogyoke Aung San. He was assassinated during the transition period in July 1947, just six months before independence. Studying law at Rangoon University, he gave promise of a brilliant academic career winning prizes and scholarships. Political interests and activities as a nationally prominent student leader affected her father’s academic career. In 1938, he ended his law studies abruptly, in order to serve the cause of national freedom by joining the only militant and intensely political party in Burma, the Dohbama Asi-(anyone).

The two are framed in a Buddhist Temple outline and the overall print/stamp is encased in an architectural temple door border design. The temple curtain in the background highlights iconic symbolism associated with Suu Kyi’s struggle for her country.

The Bhudda image defines the fact that Suu Kyi is a Buddhist and that Buddhism is the predominant religion of Burma. Windows depict her detention and house arrest. The star and solitary bird depict the National League for Democracy Party, which she headed in 1990 and which won a landslide victory with 80% support. The letter “N” and the Bird of Peace represent the Nobel Peace Prize, which she was awarded in 1991. The Norwegian Nobel Committee wished to honour this woman for her unflagging efforts and to show its support for the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means. The “UN” image relates to the involvement of the United Nations. It was only in 2001 that the UN envoy, Razali Ismail, was able to reveal that talks had in fact been under way with the military junta. The UN had been pressing the government to make a number of key concessions. The main concession - Suu Kyi’s release - has now been met. The UN also wants freedom for political parties to operate, and moves towards power sharing.

Veiled Curtains: Benazir

Benazir Bhutto (1953 - 2007) was sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan on December 2, 1988, becoming the first woman to head the government of an Islamic State. Her objectives were to return Pakistan to civilian rule and to oust the men who executed her father. In 1990 President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed her government for alleged corruption, but she ran on an anti-corruption campaign and was re-elected Prime Minister in 1993. In the preceding decade of political struggle, Benazir Bhutto was arrested on numerous occasions; in all she spent nearly six years either in prison or under detention whilst the leader of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party. Throughout the years in opposition, she pledged to transform Pakistan society by focusing her attention on programs with respect to health, social welfare and education for the underprivileged. Her two terms in office had ended in allegations of corruption, which included $1.5 billion dollars in bribes.

Born in Karachi in 1953, she completed her early education in Pakistan and later attended Radcliffe College and Oxford University. As well as obtaining a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, she also completed a course in International Law and Diplomacy at Oxford. In 1988 she received the Bruno Kreisky Award for Human Rights and in 1989 the Honorary Phi Beta Kappa Award from Radcliffe.

Images in the print show Benazir and her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He was one of Pakistan’s all-time popular leaders. Zulfikar seems to have favored Benazir over his two sons, suspecting that she was the most politically adept of them. He was hung in 1979 after a coup by General Zia, a Senior Army Chief.

The two are framed in an Islamic Temple outline and the overall print/stamp is encased in a representational star border design. The temple curtain in the background highlights iconic symbolism associated with Benazir’s terms of office as Prime Minister.

Guns depict assassinations, military coups, political turmoil and the crackdown she staged on armed rivals. The Rupee and Dollar signs are framed within a traditional Islamic mosaic pattern. They depict the corruption, mismanagement and poverty that surrounded her legacy in government. The hajib, depicts her as the first Islamic woman Prime Minister. The window framed with vertical lines depicts her detention, imprisonment and time in solitary confinement at Sakkur Jail. The Crescent and Star are the national symbols depicted on the Pakistan Flag and on the national currency.

The prints were developed using the same techniques in order to ensure that the series would be consistent. The prints are uniform in size, form and design structures. Using a mix of transparent, opaque and metallic inks, a consistent palette of deep, jewel like colors and contrast colors were printed for the series. Colors were mixed by hand using oil based screen printing inks. Each print required a new set of colors to be mixed that complied with the palette range. Each print incorporated the use of political and deconstructed historical images to substantiate the research in various forms as well as in text form.

The scale of various images and their positions on the page were also considered for uniformity. All prints employed extensive layering of images and colors. The primary focus of using transparent inks was to add layers of depth to the overall image thus seamlessly connecting the series.

As the series was screen printed, the photo stencil technique was the primary reproduction method employed for each print. Gum acacia and cold wax were overlaid on the stencil images using dry brush, wet brush and sponging methods. This enabled the extensive color layering of the images to be made and introduced areas of contrast.

Paper stock used for the print series was White Stonehenge. Cartridge and Stonehenge papers were used for initial experimental and proofing stages that this project required.

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