Print In Action

This programme explores how modern printmaking has activated invisible communities in the Netherlands, Singapore and China from the 1930s to the present. It starts with two short films, Knust, The Pioneers of Riso Print by Ivana Smudja and Some Actions Which Haven’t Been Defined Yet in the Revolution by Sun Xun, followed by a dialogue between local historian Lim Cheng Tju; Marl Goh of Knuckles and Notch, a creative studio and risograph press; and Seng Yu Jin, Deputy Director of Curatorial & Research at the Gallery. They will discuss the art of print and its attendant politics, with reference to the woodcut collection on display in the DBS Singapore Gallery.

Rating: R21

KNUST, THE PIONEERS OF RISO PRINT

By Ivana Smudja

The Netherlands | In Dutch and English with English subtitles | 2019 | 29 min 51 sec | PG

Asian Premiere

This documentary traces the history of Knust, an independent printing press based in Nijmegen that is regarded as one of the pioneers of risography. Founded in 1984, Knust was part of the Nijmegen artists’ initiative that originated during the squat movement in the Netherlands, where self-publishing ignited the clash between anarchist politics and neo-liberal urban reforms. 

A risograph is a stenciled duplicator, and involves a process comparable to silkscreen printing or photocopying. One of its most common applications is in the self-published zines which have arisen as an outlet to address issues surrounding feminism, anarchism and the punk revolution. Such zines helped to create a unique visual vocabulary for subcultures and identity politics. This blurring of the boundaries between consumer and producer, and author and audience, forms a crucial intersection in the formation of zine culture, which is enabled by printing presses like Knust. More recently, young artists such as the artist Charlotte Ager are once again making use of this technique. 

Knust, The Pioneers of Riso Print has been screened at numerous museums and bookfairs, such as Valkhof Museum in 2019, Faísca International Riso Festival (2020) and the Van Abbemuseum exhibition on the Knust Collective in 2019.

 

Ivana Smudja (b. 1986, Serbia) is a Netherlands-based filmmaker who actively works in the commercial film industry. While working at VICE Italy, she researched inspiring topical issues and developed an interest in alternative ways of storytelling. She is currently working on a new art film project centered on the German artist, Joseph Beuys, slated for release in 2021.

SOME ACTIONS WHICH HAVEN’T BEEN DEFINED YET IN THE REVOLUTION

By Sun Xun

China | No dialogue | 2011 | 12 min 22 sec | R21 (Sexual Scene)

Singapore Premiere

This animated short film is composed entirely of etched woodblocks. It speculates on the legacy of the Cultural Revolution, alluding to the historical use of woodblock printing in disseminating ideology. Woodblock printing, which emerged in 7th century China, experienced a revival during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s as a means to quickly communicate information to a mass audience. One of the key proponents in China’s modern woodcut movement was Lu Xun, whose philosophy is embedded throughout the film. For instance, Lu Xun’s motif of cannibalism to describe the decay of Chinese consciousness is referenced when the protagonist pulls an insect from within his own body and eats it alive.  

This sense of the grotesque is revisited throughout the tormented journey of the unnamed protagonist, who traverses a liminal world caught between day and night, past and present, and dreams and reality. Nightmarish, hallucinatory imagery accompanies the non-linear experience of time where traumatic flashbacks emerge alongside everyday routines. A haunting soundscape contributes to the fever pitch of anxiety which permeates the claustrophobic spaces the character is caught within, alluding to a psychological experience of revolution and its incongruities. Set in an indeterminate time and space, the film expresses the pervasive tremors of multiple revolutions that are experienced as sanctioned terror.

Some Actions Which Haven’t Been Defined Yet in the Revolution was in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival (2012), in the Berlinale Shorts section.

 

Sun Xun (b. 1980, China) is a mixed media artist who employs  animation and drawing in his works. He is a recipient of several awards such as the Chinese Contemporary Art Awards (2010) and the Civitella Ranieri Visual Arts Fellowship 2011/ 2012. His works have been exhibited in numerous international film festivals including the Venice Film Festival in 2010, where his animation film 21G was the first Chinese animation film selected by the festival. Sun Xun currently lives and works in Beijing in where his animation studio, π Animation Studio, is located.

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