Knine Productions proudly presents the second in the agit-prop art series, engaging artists and the public to produce and support artworks and practices that speak to our time.
Therese Ritchie's "If she were as priceless as a work of art, you'd save her" comes after the success of her Museum and Art Gallery NT curated solo exhibition "Burning Hearts"(2020). I was commissioned to review the exhibition for the publication Art Monthly Australasia. The exhibition presented her practice through the lens and prisms of manipulation inherent in digital photographic art.
With "If she were as priceless..." Ritchie forays into uncharted territory, with a new method of representation- the screen print- a process she has only once before used many decades ago in art school.
The work is screen-printed by Franck Gohier of "Red Hand Prints", numbered and signed by the Ritchie, on 300 gsm, acid free, ivory board. The price per print is $100 and includes postage and handling (for dispatch anywhere in Australia).
To place your order please email Knine Productions: email@example.com
After consultation with Ritchie, I engaged Franck Gohier to print her work. It is the first time that Ritchie worked with Franck Gohier in his celebrated Red Hand studio. It is always exceptional when creatives meet to engage in physical space. Here is a work that represents a collection of personas shape-shifting Darwin's visual-cultural landscape.
The commissioned work is second in the series of agit-prop art-prints and follows the success of Franck Gohier's "Don't Cough Comrades" (2020) limited 99 edition print. Gohier put forward Ritchie as an artist to approach for this project.
Vouching for the work's artistic merit, she has hand numbered and signed each limited print. While boldly making a statement, she seeks to impart an understanding, to generate conversations and to urge for direct action beyond acquisition and display of a bespoke hand-made artwork.
As art practices go, art's conception and production practices are often silent, incidental to the end result.
Ritchie’s practice is predominantly digital and solitary, her haptic gestures capture, find and manipulatie digital pixels, daily, often late into the night. Franck’s printing practice also requires a physicality, often solitary, body becoming part of the printing-machine, hours spent reproducing late into the night.
Ritchie's camera captures and her endless search for inspiration buried deep inside the internet super-archive, are sieved through tertiary processes- design, composition, juxtaposition on-screen, mouse-clicking and pixel manipulation- often referencing the images and painterly techniques of the Great Masters- chiaroscuro, mixing hues and tones, a digital pallet combining a patchwork of signifiers into an artwork with a synthetic whole and a concrete message, yet with meanings capable for multiple interpretations.
Franck's method of carefully building screens, physical layers, in this instance three stencil frames, constructs then deconstructs the material steps involved in making an art work and the time it takes to conceive and produce artwork.
The image was split in two via digital means and the mirror halves rejoined to create a new, unique version. The picture was then converted into a halftone going as far as to add the Ben Day-dot details.
Each time the squeegee is dragged over the surface of the scree by hand, differing amounts of pressure is applied. The paper may move ever so slightly from one print to another. When a color doesn’t print clearly, a ‘double print’ is applied to correct deficiencies, depositing more paint, making each print slightly different to the others in the edition. Since humidity is different from one day to the next, the paper shrinks or expands slightly, creating registration nuances. Whilst every attempt is made to ensure that each print in the edition looks as similar to the next as possible, in reality it is intrinsically impossible. As such each print, on a micro level, is original and unique within the context of an edition.
Ritchie, like Gohier, shares a commercial/art printing back-ground, and with career spanning four decades, seeped in the culture and commodification of the printing press.
To share a past with a practice that democratized the word, the image, texts as ideas, pamphlets, books, posters, postcards, photographs, quotes, slogans, Ritchie and Gohier are as imbued in limitless repetition and circulation, drenched in media strategies that on the one hand shape collective consciousness and simultaneously bolsters respect for originality.
Ritchie has used Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Pink and Carbon Black, lurid colors, invoking Warhol's "Cow" from the print series from 1966. Warhol's use of licorice all-sorts, the artificial food-colors of pop-commodification.
However, “If she was as priceless...” takes a swipe at our value system generated by the zombie art market. A system of commodity exchange, elevating art objects to luxury status symbols, objects drained of any inherent or experiential value, consumerism transforming votive works into status symbols, badges of honor for elites without any inclination for accountability.
Ritchie defiantly rips directly from Warholean strategies and imposes instead the an iconic Australian marsupial on the brink of extinction. An anti-art provocation, in the grand tradition of Dada and Agit-prop art, subverting high art's claims to exceptionalism with the representation of an undervalued almost kitsch Australiana-type object, representing an iconic species facing extinction in part because our lifestyles are toxic.
Ritchie presents a deliberate ironic slap to our commodification culture. The work puts the spotlight on the contemporary art practices content to mechanically reproduce commodities in the “pop-art-style”- a badge of honor to nothing, except as title to the elite consumer with a taste for "priceless luxury goods".
Koalas were listed as a vulnerable species in 2012. An iconic symbol to the Australian experience is a critically endangered marsupial. Excessive tree-clearing and logging operations in QLD and NSW are major reasons why we’re losing them. A recent NSW Parliament inquiry found that koalas would be extinct by 2050 if nothing was done to stop their rapid decline. 8000 koalas died during the recent bush fires which will take many years to rebuild the wild koala population.
The artwork encourages us to reflect, to think about and appreciate the unique wildlife we have in Australia.
The artwork also encourages a call to action, for if we don't do something urgent to arrest our behavior as homoeconomus we risk losing them.
By all means, she wants you to purchase and possess this art work, as I do. The irony is not lost on us. In its circulation we hope to invoke your own provocation and to take the personal and collective task of de-cluttering conspicuous consumption from our life. This is more so now in the time of Corona, when so many pressing issues, like environmental collapse, are receding into the background. Given the ferocity of the recent bush fires we are in for more of these infernos to come.
Her strategy employs mass circulation to provoke a political response. Merging ethics with aesthetics to ram home certain uncomfortable truths.
Check out the Ritchie's logo, an outline of a Corgi, a cheeky take on her reputation as she who bites.
Proceeds raised from the sale of this art print will finance the commission of another artist to develop a limited edition art print for this series.
Knine Productions will donate a number of prints to public institutions to enhance their collection of Darwin contemporary art.
Each artist was paid a commission fee as negotiated with the artists.
Therese is donating her artist fee. She is currently researching agencies or organisations committed to the fight against the extinction and preservation of koalas.
To order a print please email Knine Productions: firstname.lastname@example.org