Absorb, Peltz Gallery

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Frontier (2016)

C-type print of press transferred positive on Hahnemule paper

210 cm x 108 cm

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What lies beneath (2016)

C-type print on Hahnemule paper

210 cm x 108 cm

Part of the auratic translations of images from the 1930s on the river in Argentina, these photographic renditions (large scale) emphasize the troughs and fissures that occur when different surfaces and iterations occur. The research is centred on a photo album found of my grandfather’s images of the turn of the century in Latin America and create a dialogue across time.

 

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Hats on the Paraná, circa 1930, Henry Richard Ahrens

PROLOGUE: Hats on the Paraná

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There is a photograph that I discovered some years ago, a photograph in ruins, that can be read only in the ‘traces of what is no longer present.’[1] I will call this photograph ‘Hats on the Paraná’, as it has triggered an investigation into the network of dialogues that address narratives of place in contemporary printmaking and photographic practice. This photograph, taken circa 1930, along the River Paraná in Argentina (according to a caption on the back) is a snapshot found in a forgotten family album and belonged to my grandfather, Henry Richard Ahrens. I never knew my grandfather, as he died when I was only two years old. All that remains of him in my mind’s eye is a vague recollection of a tall man in a hat, at the margins of my vision, as well as a handful of stories of him handed down by my family. Certainly, I had no idea that he was a keen photographer and, as so many of his time, collected his photographs in the pages of a now worn and weathered photographic album. The image itself (figure 2) is an analogue, silver based print and captures a faded shot of the river, trees running up both sides in a triangular composition, sky mirroring the water and a bird flying out of the image. On closer inspection, in the bottom right hand corner of the photograph, cut off by the edge of the print are two gentlemen in what appears to be a rowing boat (the end of an oar cuts the photographic plane): they are both wearing a hat, each one is different and distinct – one belonging to the man whose face we see, is a captain’s white naval hat with a visor, the other, firmly positioned on the head of a man whose face is turned and obscured, is a fedora. Both men in their hats inhabit the print at its margins, as incomplete figures, torso-less, limbless, and now, lifeless and still. They represent the only human presence visible in the image; two strangers whose existence remains partially engrained on the surface of a print, yet unknown to me. The surface of the print is beginning to deteriorate, creating superficial distortions on the left side, and across the bottom of the image. These are chemical erasures that are reacting to time and atmospheric conditions, eating at the print and peeling away at its coating. Where the river fades into a vanishing point in the centre of the photograph and the trees that frame it on both sides collide with the sky, the faintest shadow of a white sun hangs low on the horizon. The man wearing the captain’s hat is positioned, it would seem, in the centre of the boat, mouth poised open mid speech, while the second man sits behind him, looking away from the photographer, only his right ear and the dark socket of his right eye below his hat are visible. A tear in the right hand corner of the print creates a line culminating in a void, which runs through the captain’s eyes, scratching them from visibility, and impeding our view and, in a sense, the captain’s ability to see ‘us’. He is blinded by the sun, as he squints at the photographic lens, and twice blinded by the fragile scratches. The print is in ruin, compromised by time and alchemy, and its meaning is being lost with it. The photograph is fading, yellowing and tearing, as its transient history marks its passage through time: it is of the past, but seen in the present and disappearing into its future.

[1] Eduardo Cadava, 2001, p.35

Contemporary Printmaking, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou

Jian Zhou curated the show at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou as part of Impact 9 Printmaking Conference 2015. The show is now open at Times Art Museum, Beijing and will be touring to Changsha and Shanghai later in the year. My piece, ‘They were Hanging There’ (2015) above is now part of the International Collection at the National Museum of Art, Beijing.

River Dialogues, Wells

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Sculptural photographic pieces, currently being shown at WAC, Somerset

4 x triangles with C-type prints, fragments of the same view, layered one in front of the other, with pieces missing, they allude to the difficulties of remembering and our multiple responses and encounters with the landscape.

Folded Parana

VictoriaAhrens_foldedparana_3Folded Paraná (2015) Photo etching on fabriano rosaspina paper, 80 cm (h) x 150 cm (w)

From the series of photo-etchings exposed and developed on the banks of the Paraná with water from the river. The last known resting place of thousands of Argentina’s political disappeared during the Dirty War, the plates are embued with the dna of these lost lives, while the iron rich waters serve to hide in their depths the fragments of their history.

On lo(n)gging

New print sculpture of abandoned logging sheds along the Parana river (50 cm x 70 cm), handmade prints on fabriano rosaspina paper, cut and mounted on acid free book covers

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They were hanging there

newprint2New c-type prints on Japanese awagami paper, 210 cm x 108 cm – photographic negative

The title refers to the fact that new evidence has emerged in recent years stating that islanders in the Delta region of Argentina lived for years during the Dirty War (1976-83) with bodies hanging from trees as military planes dropped them drugged and still alive into the depths of the river below. The ethereal beauty of the place belies its traumatic history.

This piece has been acquired by the China National Art Museum in Beijing, and is currently on show in Intersecting Practice of Contemporary Printmaking in the UK, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou

From the series on the Paraná- micro residencia, Tigre, Argentina

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Lumina Paraná

Here are some initial combination prints/photoetchings of my research on the Delta, an hour from Buenos Aires. The plates and photographs were taken, exposed and developed on the river (with river water), so that the subject matter of the prints, and their making, create a circular methodology:

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Reversal of Fortunes (2014)

Looking at aspects of landscape as construct and the reversible nature of print, I am working with new combination photo-etchings and digital prints to think through these ideas in a large scale. As my microresidency in Argentina approaches (Parana river workshops and ACE residency) these prints start to work with the physical intervention of place in the image:

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Home Front at NEO : Print 2014

This piece was chosen for the Neo: Print Prize exhibition 2014 (open till 2nd November)  and received a little mention in: http://www.karenjoyce01.com/blog/the-2014-neo-print-prize:

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“Lots to like here, though I didn’t particularly go for any of the prize prints.  I don’t expect to – I’m never going to be a cutting edge sort of a person, in what I do or what I like, and so what?  My own particular favourite was Barbara Ann Swan‘s ‘DNA Women’ –  I stood in front of it for ages, studying the riveting selection of body parts.  Loved it.  I liked the strips of film way of hanging it, trailing on to the floor, too.

Karen Joyce writes, ‘I also really liked Rosey Prince’s Elephant (with yellow wall) for its lovely combination of saturated colour with obviously black and white, Victoria Ahrens’ rich Home Front, Fiona Grady’s Arcs I-V as they quietly developed across the set, and the non-prizewinning work by Susan Eyre, Paradise Row SW4 for that lovely, sly flash of colour in amongst the shades of grey’

Publish/Curate at TJ Boulting Gallery

A review of the show Publish/Curate at TJ Boulting Gallery this August in Photofusion, with a small mention of my work.

http://www.photofusion.org/exhibition-review-publishcurate-tj-boulting/

 

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‘The most notable curated presentation of work in my opinion is the images chosen by Alic Janta, co-editior of Adad Books, where we see a collection of work by different artists, all fitting especially well together. They all seem to have in common the exploration of printing processes and alternative presentation, in a way reflecting the perhaps most visible book in their shop, Far, by Emile Hyperion. Janta has been especially successful with the selection of work by Whitney McVeigh, Victorie Thieree, Victoria Ahrens, David Noonan, and I would have loved to enter Adad Books’ website to see publications by all these artists and more, as a special and unique approach to alternative presentation also in book form.’ Marianne Bjørnmyr

Honoré Project, Galerie Rue de Visconti, Paris

Beautifully curated exhibition at Balzac’s Print Rooms in the lovely St Germain arrondissment of Paris. This exhibition that I was asked to show in will now be coming to London, to the TJ Boulting Gallery:

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TRACES, a group show part of HONORE.

This exhibition is taking place in Balzac’s former printing workshop on Rue de Visconti, in Paris and will present the work of artists who have been exploring various techniques such as lithography, photo-etching, collotype, biro-drawing, digitally processed photography, screen-printing, mono-print, photogram, transfer, etc and attempting to get new results, whether they have developed their own process or have kept in line with classical tradition of printing and drawing and who have as a result created interesting textural works.

This show presented alongside exhibitions by Hannah Watson from Trolley Books and Aron Morel from Morel Books, features works by:

ADELINE DE MONSEIGNAT
AKIKO TAKIZAWA
ASGER CARSLEN
AUGUSTIN STEYER
BOO SAVILLE
CHARLOTTE SCHNABL
DAVID NOONAN
ELOISE VAN DER HEYDEN
HUGO WILSON
IVY ARMOUR
TAMSIN RELLY
VICTOIRE THIERREE
VICTORIA AHRENS
WHITNEY McVEIGH and
WILLIAM ROPER-CURZON

Private view: Wednesday 18th June from 7pm.
Thursday 19th – Saturday 21th, noon till 8 pm
17-19 Rue de Visconti, 75006 Paris

The HONORE PROJECT is the brainchild of Laure Flammarion and Pauline Levêque
www.honorevisconti.com
www.ruevisconti-editions.com

Alix Janta-Polczynski
www.adadbooks.com

Print Dialogues- solo show at the PELTZ Gallery, Bloomsbury

River Dialogues

crumpledprint1The Fall (2014) Crumpled C-type prints on copy paper from press transferred film stills, 350 cm x 110 cm

PRINT DIALOGUES at the Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck School of Art, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H

1st May- 10th May 2014

2nd May: 4pm artist talk

6th May: 6pm round table discussion with Dr. Gabriel Koureas, Dr. Patrizia di Bello and Professor Paul Coldwell

Print Dialogues is an exhibition of lens-based work by the artist and researcher VICTORIA AHRENS. Her work explores the intersection between photography and printmaking in the depiction of the lost landscape. Working initially from rediscovered analogue snapshots of the river, she reworks the imagery through various screens, questioning the fragmentary nature of memory and the possibility of the ruin in her contemporary print installations.

Supported by Birkbeck School of Art and the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre

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Printmaking Today, Perfect Purchase

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Article in Printmaking Today: Perfect Purchase, with a review of the Clifford Chance Purchase Prize I won in November 2013. The prize means one of my prints becomes a part of the one of the largest print collections in Britain. It was selected by Emma Stibbon  RA who ‘was impressed with the quality of her print installation. Stibbon said Ahrens’ work ‘alludes to the history of landscape art, the picturesque, but re-invents it into something surprising.’

Parana blues (2014)

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Fragments of found photographs from the turn of the century, transferred through the press, then photoetched with blue screen projected onto it- continuing my experiments into the interstices between printmaking and photography, digital and analogue.

Clifford Chance show

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Arkadia (2013)C-type Print of press transferred film stills, on copy paper 300 cm x 120 cm

Selected for this show by Nigel Frank to represent Postgraduate Printmaking in London- the show opens on 13th November on the 30th Floor Gallery. Also showing are Paula Bourke-Girgis, Joanna Brinton, Jude Cowan Montague, Hanne Lillee, Leah Miller-Biot, Michael O’Reilly, Yanna Soares, Georgina Tate, Ines Tavares, and Nicola Thomas. I was selected as the Clifford Chance Purchase Prize Winner 2013.

IMG_1252The Lost Exploitation Journals (2013), 300 newspapers, plinth- for the public to take, creates strata that are distributed outside the gallery space

Pushing Print 2013

Pushing Print festival in Margate 2013, with exhibitions at the Pie Factory and Margate Gallery. My work was selected for the Pie Factory and I was pleased with the display and feedback. Margate, having never been before, proved to be a quirky place with, as Turner would have us believe, spectacular skies:PushingPrint4

Naipi and Taroba (2013) Projection of waterfall, backwards on hand made book cover

PushingPrint3Casper’s Forest (2013) Transfer print collage on Japanese Shozo paper, completed with found book, shelf

Abandum

IMG_1087Arkadia (The Lost Exploitation Journals) 2013

Installation of four digital prints, two projections, 600 newspapers

Although I have worked with this image before, here I was interested in re-fragmenting the piece into its constituent parts. The idea of the banner has an interesting etymology from bandum (Latin), for the cloth that is made into a flag. But it also is the basis of the word abandon which is ‘against the bandum’ or to be disloyal or disobey orders of the flag (of authority)- these banners are, therefore,  banners of abandon. There is a lovely correlation between the initial ideas and the format  in relation to this concept of abandoned spaces/ the political dimension: the history of the use of banners in May Day processions/ by trades unions in the 19th/ early 20th century – where the environment was being changed forever by the industrial revolution, with new mills, factories and mines. The use of banners in commercial printmaking for all kinds of uses also connects the work to both the history of printmaking as well as the its use in contemporary advertising etc- Here the banners allude to the arbitrary division of geographical borders and the loss of the our relationship to the environment. This piece won an award from the Printmakers Council 2013.

award1IMG_1083Installation shot, Abandum Arkadia (2013) banner prints, 600 newspapers and projection, Gaerd (2013)