I mention mail as art because the first Postmaster General, Benjamin Franklin gained his start as a printer and publisher in Philadelphia. It is Franklin's and Philadelphia's connection with printing that generated the idea an international festival celebrating print in contemporary art. The festival, Philagrafika 2010 started last Friday and will run until April 10.
While Philagraphika focuses on contemporary art, the topics explored at the festival's venues are the heart of the challenge that designers of mail and other documents face in trying to make their designs, and the content that they contain effective.
Pattern and Ornamentation: The multiplication/repetition of an image or text to produce patterns that are applied to various surfaces as ornamentation or embellishment.
Accessibility and Dissemination: The long-standing appeal of inexpensive, mass-produced prints, in the form of posters, broadsides, flyers, etc., as an effective means of raising public interest in social and political struggles and recent innovative adaptations as developments in production and communication technologies have continued to evolve.
Collaboration and Community: The often shared production of printmaking (an artist working with one or more printers, publishers, etc.) that has attracted numerous artists working as collectives, ideally suited to their ambitions to create a sense of community through collaboration.
The Authority of the Print: The use of existing printed images and texts as iconographical or inspirational sources; the appropriation of printed images; and the implied validation of a text or an image by virtue of its existence “in print.”
Craftsmanship and Aesthetics: The significance of the choice of medium, its intrinsic qualities and the skilled craftsmanship with which it is executed in relation to the artist’s expressive goal; and the translation of the inherent aesthetics of one medium into another.
The Print in the Public Sphere: The key role of print forms and conventions in the circulation of ideas and images that create a public realm and help construct consensus forms such as histories, authorities and individual and community identities.
I urge readers of this blog who live within reasonable distance of Philadelphia to take a trip and check out this exhibition.