Aleksandra Mir (American and Swedish, born Poland 1967). Venezia (all places contain all others). 2009.One from a series of one hundred postcards, each 4 1/4 x 6” (10.8 x 15.2 cm). Publisher: the artist, Palermo. Printer: Ringier, Zurich. Edition: 10,000 each (1,000,000 total).
Print/Out at The Museum of Modern Art examines the many roles that prints play in artistic practices today, embracing the versatile and global nature of contemporary art in the last two decades. On view in The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art Exhibition Gallery, Print/Out brings together approximately 70 series or projects drawn from MoMA's extensive collection of more than 50,000 prints and illustrated books, while also including several important loans from private and public collections.
Focusing on the medium's defining characteristics - its reproducibility, collaborative nature, and ability to circulate widely - Print/Out explores how artists have integrated these ideas in some of the most innovative art practices of our time. The exhibition features some 40 artists and artist groups, including Ai Weiwei, Trisha Donnelly, General Idea, Martin Kippenberger, Lucy McKenzie, Aleksandra Mir, Robert Rauschenberg, Rirkrit Tiravanija, SUPERFLEX, and Kara Walker, along with publishers and publishing projects such as Edition Jacob Samuel, museum in progress, and Permanent Food. Among the notable installations is Thomas Schtte's Low Tide Wandering (2001), an ambitious series of 139 prints that are hung on site by the artist,criss-crossing the gallery space to create a maze-like, immersive environment.
While recognized as an artist and political activist, Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957) is often overlooked in his role as a pioneering publisher, yet the three volumes he produced in the 1990s-known as The Black Cover Book (1994), The White Cover Book (1995), and The Grey Cover Book (1997)-could well be among his most impactful and enduring legacies. These paperbacks, comprised of artists' submissions, essays, and translations of existing art-historical and critical texts, offered a new vehicle for circulating and disseminating information among China's contemporary artists during a moment marked by a near total lack of access to foreign monographs, exhibition catalogues, and art magazines.
Another notable artist's project that demonstrates the potential of the print medium for spreading ideas across vast geographies is Felix Gonzalez-Torres' "Untitled" (1991). Based on a black-and-white photograph of an unmade bed, this site-specific project is to be presented on public billboard spaces. As part of Print/Out, the work will be on view on billboards in the following six locations throughout New York City from February 20 to March 18, 2012: 11th Avenue and 38th Street in Manhattan; Neptune Avenue and Guider in Brooklyn; Pennsylvania Avenue near Fulton Street in Brooklyn; Van Dam Street near Queens Boulevard in Queens; 31st Street near Ditmars Boulevard in Queens. One additional billboard will be on view at the entrance to the exhibition.
Part of Print/Out takes place on the Museum's second floor with the exhibition Printin', co-organized by the artist Ellen Gallagher and Associate Curator Sarah Suzuki, and centered around Gallagher's major portfolio DeLuxe (2004-05). The Museum is also hosting Print Studio, an interactive space that explores the evolution of artistic practices relating to the medium of print.
Print/Out is part of a series of large-scale print surveys periodically organized by the Museum's Department of Prints and Illustrated Books in order to assess the current state of the medium. The last two exhibitions were Printed Art: A View of Two Decades, organized by Riva Castleman in 1980, and Thinking Print: Books to Billboards: 1980-1995, organized by Deborah Wye in 1996.