Franchir la ligne, triptyque, 2014, Impression à la cuillère et collage sur papier Kraft, 222 x 127 cm
Thank you to Alberta Prinmakers' Society and to Le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for allowing me the privilege to exhibit in the Artist Proof Gallery, Calgary. I was honored to meet everyone who attended my lecture.
Essay by Stacey Watson
By choosing a drastic reduction of form and material, Hélène Latulippe emphasizes action in her series Embroidery of Code Lines. Comprised of three prints, made by inking an object and then rubbing paper laid over it, the work demonstrates the simplest and earliest of printmaking techniques. Viewed from afar the lines depicted stand in orderly stillness, but close-up they vibrate with inconsistency.
Indeed if we are to consider that this could be code as the title suggests, then it is the moments of delineation that require attention. There are the instances of larger transgression: where lines are split, crossed, paused or ended incomplete. These punctuations are at times made with collage: pasted craft paper causes slight elevations of the surface, as an embroidery would do. Perhaps there is also a code within a code, because the subtle meanderings of the lines, so minute, are like the grooves in a vinyl record.
Less important here than a message within the marks is how the code is created. The titles of Latulippe’s prints at times lead the viewer to take note of actions which disturb the order of the lines (Rompre la ligne, Franchir la ligne, Point à la ligne). Still, repetition dominates. In close-up are the details which document a hand at work, working carefully over an over (again a link to embroidery as is intimated by the exhibition title). One can sense that there is a performative aspect to this work. To link these lines that immediately speak of control to a process of the body is one of the key points of meaning.
In the text “The Analysis of Performance Art” by A. Howell, the author notes that “inconsistency is a primary action, one of the fundamental poles of action.”1 He is referring to the repetition of performative acts, a process in which inconsistency is unavoidable. Pure repetition is as impossible as pure inconsistency. Howell goes on to say, “repetition underpins our inconsistencies.”2 It is meaningful to dwell further on repetition when looking at Embroidery in Code Lines, because of a reference to printmaking tradition.
One must read works made in the printmaking tradition in a different way now, as compared to in days gone by. Current technology gives us the ability to repeat an action or duplicate a mark or object to precise exactitude, with very minimal inconsistency. The practical function of the early printmaking techniques (to copy image and text for distribution) is potentially an obsolete point in the meaning of a contemporary work made with these same methods. Or perhaps here it is key to meaning, Hélène Latulippe calls attention to how traditional printmaking vibrated with life while making duplicated works with repeated acts. It is the performance of the artist, in private or public, inking and printing over and over, that Embroidery of Code Lines celebrates.
1 A. Howell, “The Analysis of Performance Art: A Guide to Its Theory and Practice”(New York: Routledge, 1999) 72.
2 Howell, 72.