Confessions of the Found Object
An Experimental Printmaking Workshop with Tamara Becerra Valdez
On February 16, Spring 2019 Curatorial Intern Wyatt Fiore attended Tamara Becerra Valdez's printmaking workshop presented in conjunction with All have the same breath. Wyatt recounts their experience participating in the workshop and experiencing Valdez' practice firsthand. This is the first in a two-part series examining Valdez' practice.
With a combination of gestures such as pressing, rubbing, and striking the page, Tamara Becerra Valdez encourages an explorative route to non-traditional printmaking. She calls attention to previous buried or discarded objects, bringing new life to them through each contact with paper. Participants are encouraged to dip objects, such as found bricks, wood scraps, and rope, into array of dull yellows, reds, blues, and greens to create a collection of unique prints. Completed prints are then equally redistributed among each other to create what is known as a Trade Portfolio.
As the workshop begins, Tamara encourages members of the group to experiment with their printmaking techniques, mentioning multiple ways to press the object to the page and create variation among the imagery. From here, each participant chooses an object with which they begin the printing process. I choose to work closely with an artist who creates their prints by dragging string along the page. This process unveils a sort of abstract drawing and as we continue to print, we become more and more involved in new ways of striking the page. According to Tamara, this element of unpredictability invites a shifting agency as we surrender ourselves to the object creating the image.
"By losing ink over time, we can see new details that we didn’t see before,” she suggests. Valdez believes that revealing the fragmentation of the objects is as important, or even maybe more important, than viewing the object as a whole. This may give the impression that space itself is important, and that the gesture of losing is actually a gesture of seeing. With each print, a confession of the object is divulged as we discover the images they are capable of producing.
This idea of losing ink with each multiple makes me wonder if a print can ever be “complete” if, even after the first run of prints, the process itself begins to fragment the object. These explorations speak to Tamara’s interest in the passing of time and in the poetics of the ordinary. Her use of mundane construction materials comments on globalization and capitalization, themes that are deeply embedded in Tamara’s regular practice, along with memory, time, and ephemerality.
When looking up synonyms for touch I found that words such as communication, embrace, feel, and even lick are thought to be synonymous. It is interesting to imagine that there may be some form of communication happening between the page and the object, and I would like to think that there is.The gesture of the object being dragged across the page, for example, can be thought of as a licking of the page. There is definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to the relationship of the object to the page. When thinking about an artist losing agency within their own work, I like to think of it rather as a full subjection of self to the materials themselves.
All photos from Tamara Becerra Valdez's COPIES AND TRANSFERS Printmaking Workshop on February 16, 2019 at Gallery 400. Photos by Kiam Marcelo Junio.