Ahead, Instead

Woodblock prints
In collaboration with Shoichi Kitamura 
2023, shown at Trykkeriet Bergen

Ahead, Instead is the result of a two part project. At first, I traveled to Kyoto, Japan to learn the basics of Japanese woodblock printing from master carver Shoichi Kitamura. While in Japan, I got to visit several buildings designed by Tadao Ando as well as the Isamu Noguchi museum. My interest lies in Ando’s use of weather elements, such as light and wind, to animate his architectural spaces and in Noguchi focus on texture and the haptic. For the second stage of the project, Kitamura traveled to Bergen to work with me at Trykkeriet.

For this exhibition I have taken as my starting point the photographic images gathered in Japan. In several ways this exhibition is a travelogue: firstly, all the images come from specific encounters I’ve had in Japan. Secondly, I’ve tried to attend to the performative aspects of images, revisiting long term interests such as the construction of depth by other means than perspective, repetition and difference and peripheral view.

Traditional Japanese woodblock print or Mokuhanga follows a strict set of rules. The two most important are: each color layer has its own carved plate and each plate has precise registration marks (consisting of a carved and indentured corner and one additional groove). The registration mark allows for each printed layer to align. The result of these two aspects are clear images, with crisp outlines and color alignment.

In this exhibition I’ve tried to challenge these two preset conditions. Most of the images are made from one plate, but have been printed several times in different colors. Instead of being precise, I made use of an approximate registration mark. The outcome of this approach is a slightly off-set and misaligned image.

For this exhibition Kitumura has carved and printed four images for me. He’s doing this through reduction print. This technique only allows for a preset number of prints. Once a layer is carved and printed, the next ones are carved and printed from the same plate. It’s a kind of extraction with preset limits, where each next layer is already embedded in the previous one. You cannot go back and do over, thus the process is harder to control.

The scope of what you’ll encounter in Ahead, Instead, exists in this generative tension. Kitamura´s abilities to master and control every aspect of his craft versus my attraction to energetic, direct, happy accidents that are process led and geared towards an unexpected outcome.

The project and exhibition is supported by Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation Norge, Kulturrådet, The Norwegian Embassy in Tokyo, Municipality of Bergen, Norwegian Printmakers, Globus Opstart Nordisk Kulturfond, Trykkeriet.

Image credit: Trykkeriet

 Copyright © 2023 Apichaya Wanthiang. All rights reserved.