Monday, November 28, 2011

Jeremy Lundquist Showing off Text-ural Prints at the MAPC show

Pondering the meaning of Lundquist's broken phrases and written verse is at first perplexing. I've seen several people stop at his triptych at the Mid America Print Council show and read the words he's arranged for the reader to decipher. They sometimes try to figure out which verses of prose they must originate from, and then I see them cock their heads to the side in consternation, confusion and sometimes frustration.  Lundquist doesn't present an easy answer, or an easy reading of the text for the viewer and that is the point. He is presenting a statement,  and as I have also considered his piece, I find it can be multi-layered in context and meaning.  

On the first go around, the phrases are chopped up, broken, in fact. The viewer wants to read them, but can't figure out if it's to be read across the triptych, or down the triptych. Either way, it seems to be missing key words. The viewer wants to connect the words like a series of dots, but is kept from the easy assembly by Lundquist's arrangement of text. The letters are heavily embossed and singularly printed, which goes against the history of printed book text, which is regimented and uniform, printable for multiple printings. Here the printing is more organic in the inking, one gets the understanding that the arrangement can be re-configured differently each time. 

Lundquist states that his 'prints deal with collaged paper and  examine and organize decay. The result is a body of work that questions contemporary notions of progress and cleanliness by presenting images and texts of loss and disillusion.' That seems true enough, so is he making a statement of the decay of society in general - that younger generations aren't reading books? Is he saying that they aren't interested in great prose, or that they are missing the texture and sensual pleasure of turning a printed page of words found in a leather-bound book? That seems plausible. 

What I get from Lundquist's work is the sense that we as a society are missing key parts of our history - our history of book-reading, and our sense of what it is to be human - to read a finely-written text, savor the touch of the paper, the feel of the lettering as it embosses the paper from a hand-pulled press, and the indulgent pleasure of quietly curling up in a corner to let one's imagination soar with the author of a poem or fiction or an historical novel. 

Our heritage as human-kind transitions to viewing text and stories via the internet, using keyboards that change text with the click of a button and  the joy of reading at one's leisure is losing ground to the availability of our electricity outlets and batteries being charged. We're losing the sense of reading and the joy one takes from it. I think Lundquist is making us look at what we've had - and still have available to us-  and he's telling us not to forget reading is knowledge and with it comes the freedom to do all things - as aspired the artists and philosophers from ancient Greece and  the Italian Renaissance. So, let us not forget the beauty of a well-crafted book,  the connection of one to other's thoughts, or the sublime experience in the turn of a phrase. Let us rejoice in reading, and what comes from knowing oneself through the written word. 

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