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PaperCut is a limited edition folio featuring three Winnipeg-based visual artists who work in the medium of cut-paper: tamara rae biebrich, Doug Melnyk and Paul Robles. As cut paper is a process of reduction, this particular folio blurs the lines between original collage, varied editions and hand-embellished prints. The limited edition PaperCut folio comprises ten 20” x 20” silk-screened images on paper: three prints by each artist as well as a rare collaborative print produced by all three artists.
PaperCut foregrounds matters as diverse as class, gender, sexual politics and issues of cultural diversity in the work of these three artists. The diverse mixture of high calibre artists in PaperCut results in a unique project that offers a comment on contemporary image making, production and a unique approach to print culture. Each of these artists is concerned with technical precision in order to convey their intended message, and also to contextualize their differing styles in historically-relevant frameworks: biebrich’s chunky silk-screens often bring to mind a Do-It-Yourself aesthetic and reference the burgeoning post-war consumer culture of the mid 20th Century; Melnyk’s close-cutting and subtle hues are often dependent on narrative and lighting, referencing the Parisian artist Daguerre; and Robles’ cut-paper stems from a knowledge and engagement with the traditional art of shadow-puppet theatre and other cultural iconography prominent throughout Asia.
The prominent theme of ‘the group’ emerged in the production of images for PaperCut.Stemming from a long-standing investigation into imagery focused on women and labour, biebrich includes in her visual vocabulary images of vintage uniforms, creative tools and other low-fi instruments of mass media and popular culture. In response to his research into shipwrecks (a tongue-in-cheek metaphor for Winnipeg), Melnyk offers the triptych based upon the Nippon Maru, an actual tour vessel of fictional misfortune that in his mind left stranded but two sea-faring souls who lived among the island-inhabitants: flamingos, monkeys, and various creatures … This tale ends in a poetic, yet melancholy depiction of man-on-man action that (d)evolves into scenes of birds soaring and primates flourishing. Similarly, Robles contributes his interpretations of beauty and sex through a subversive marriage of origami and Victorian silhouette portraiture. Outlines of the respective partners from the PaperCut trio are embellished with collaged elements featuring flora and fauna evocative of a tactile effect, which at times can take the shape of classic doilies gone awry.
These processes and interpretation are in direct response to the theory of Winnipeg as a community supposedly suffering from isolation. It is natural to assume that in the middle of the prairie flats, especially throughout our long and extreme winters (which often last from late October to early April), that isolation would result in a strong work ethos (‘what else would there be to do except work’, as the argument goes) and for the most part this is true. However the artists in PaperCut reinforce their ideal of community in order for there to be progress in one’s practice. This community is alluded to in terms of the group motif: biebrich’s ‘team ladies’ (nurses, flight attendants, and swimmers), Melnyk’s ‘survivors’, and Robles’ interpretation of the PaperCut crew’s respective partners, a sentiment underlining the fact that though we may be working in solitary, we are nevertruly alone. It might be important to note, the history of Winnipeg is rife with examples ofcommunity strongholds that are in turn reflected in the prints by these artists. Thoughtsof the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 come to mind along with the Suffragettemovement which paved the way for one of Canada’s first female members of parliament,the Manitoban, Nelly McClung; similarly, remembrances of one of the oldest Queerrights movements in the country dating back to Winnipeg’s early 1970s; which in turnmirrors Winnipeg’s immigration history, especially of Asian families in the late 50s and60s; all of which somehow culminates in one of the first artist-run centres in Canadianhistory establishing itself in Winnipeg. PaperCut works from this sense of togetherness,this understanding of ‘the group’, and the resulting assimilation into the folio form.
J.J. Kegan McFadden, Curator
tamara rae biebrich is a Winnipeg-based multimedia artist who believes in community and that the best cheerleaders make their own pompoms! While studying printmaking and photography at the University of Manitoba, she self-published a comic book,nEuROTIC girl and co-edited a ‘zine, Fight Like a Girl. Her work is inspired by Do-It-Yourself (D.I.Y.) culture and the performance of daily-life, and her practice centres on the work and play of women, ladies, and girls. tamara rae has exhibited in Canada, theUnited States, and Germany. She is known for drawing pictures and then cutting her hair and dressing to match. tamara rae rides her bike, cooks, knits, plays bass guitar, and builds shanty carpentry projects. She is crafty.
Doug Melnyk is a Winnipeg-based artist working in a variety of media. He is the author of three books, NAKED CROQUET (Turnstone Press, 1987), DOCTOR MEIST (Lives of Dogs Press Books by Artists, 1997) and a comic book of ridiculously queer proportions, Doug Melnyk’s FRUITS (As We Try & Sleep Press, 2005). His video work can be found in a number of public collections including the National Gallery of Canada and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. A number of projects are ongoing with the As We Try & Sleep Collective, working collaboratively with Larry Glawson and Kegan McFadden.
Paul Robles studied Sociology at The University of Winnipeg (BA ’92) and Visual Arts at The University of Manitoba (BFA ’96). His work has been exhibited at Plug In ICA, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Outpost for Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, The New Gallery in Calgary AB, and at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. His work is also subject of a CBC online ArtSpots profile; a CBC documentary on the Filipinos of Manitoba. In Spring of 2007 Robles completed a month-long research and development tour in the Peoples Republic of China. He’s been awarded various grants from both the Manitoba & Winnipeg Arts Councils. He lives and works in Winnipeg.
J.J. Kegan McFadden writes about art and love from Winnipeg. The founder andpublisher of As We Try & Sleep Press, he divides his time between writing, editing andproducing publications concerning poetics and/or artists. He is the Director/Curator ofPLATFORM centre for photographic + digital arts.
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