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Miloš Đorđević

Significance of Conferences and Symposia Dedicated to the Art of Printmaking

Due to its original reproductive and utilitarian character, printmaking has long been treated as a craft and technical activity and as a secondary art discipline, today is a very active and open form manifested through various artistic / visual / spatial / situational phenomena and media equivalents. Moreover, the printmaking principle of multi-originality and circulation multiplicity is registered in various contemporary artistic practices in physical and virtual spaces in a way identical or related to printmaking. The versatility of authorial practices that manifests itself on a daily basis has enriched printmaking in a way that goes beyond its established perception. That is why, during the first two decades of the 21st century, an initiative was launched in artistic and academic circles for a better and more complete understanding of printmaking as a phenomenon that goes beyond the mere fine art manifestation. Having this in mind, numerous universities, organizations and collectives have launched international conferences and symposia with a tendency of introducing printmaking into scientific and academic discourse. Their basic concept is the exchange of knowledge and sharing of research results. They connect a large number of artists, researchers, scientists, professors and students from all over the world with the common goal of re-examining the status of printmaking in the world of contemporary art and possible directions for its further development. The oldest such conference is the Southern Graphics Council International, which has been organized throughout the United States since 1974. As important is the IMPACT conference (International Multi-disciplinary Printmaking: Artists, Concepts and Techniques) based in the UK, which is organized globally. In recent years, other conferences and symposia, such as Post-digital printmaking, have contributed to the scientific perspective of studying printmaking. Redefinition of print (Wroclaw, Poland, 2017), # 1CY-GR International Printmaking Conference (Nicosia, Cyprus 2017), Printmaking in the Expanded Field (Oslo, Norway, 2015) and Password: Printmaking (Ljubljana. Slovenia, 2014). Among the similar events in Serbia are: the conference Printmaking Beyond Borders, View of the Dutch and Flemish Prints Collection (National Museum, Belgrade, 2019), panel at the International Biennial of Graphics (Platform for the Promotion of the Art of Multi-Originals, Čačak, 2018), professional-artistic-scientific round table Graphics Today (Faculty of Philology and Arts, Kragujevac, 2016) and symposium Printmaking on the Edges (Graphic Collective, Belgrade, 2009).

These and other conferences and symposia on printmaking function according to established conference organizational models and formats. They are mostly thematic, held once a year, in some cases every two years, or have a one-term character. Candidates submit their presentation proposals through open calls, which are then reviewed by an expert commission on the principle of blind review for the sake of objectivity of selection. Their presentation proposals are assessed for scientific and professional significance and general contribution to the broader professional and academic community. Exceptional experts who are invited to participate usually give introductory plenary presentations. The conference and symposium sessions are usually open to the public. Presentations are grouped into thematic panels depending to the type of research. The panel participants are experts and specialists in the field discussed. Presentation time is mostly limited to 15 minutes followed by time for questions and discussion with colleagues in the audience.

The segment that draws particular attention is the one that has practical implications for the development of the art of printmaking. It deals with presentations of authorial art projects, technical-technological innovations, examples of good entrepreneurship practices via printmaking, cases of production cooperation between artists and cooperation of artists with other lines of work, etc. However, particularly important is the segment of scientific presentations and discussions that open a wide range of possible approaches for the interpretation of the main topic of a conference or symposium. Independent or team research and scientific studies unite different scientific fields and disciplines in the processing of complex topics on printmaking. One focus point of the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research is the stance towards the history of printmaking and the re/interpretation of printmaking tradition and heritage. Numerous panels have so far been devoted to this topic. Interpretive readings of works of art and cultural artifacts from various geographical and cultural backgrounds from the past related to the printmaking principle of creativity, introduce the modern notion of printmaking on this retrospective basis, thus opening space for a new historicization of printmaking that does not necessarily function according to linear logic of the flow of time. Perceived together, this research forms a multi-line system of particular histories of printmaking (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, German, Dutch, French, English) which in a relationship of reference intersect the histories of other disciplines (science, mechanics, economics, media, etc.). The findings of this research presented at conferences and symposia constantly push the boundaries of general and professional knowledge about the past and historical development of printmaking art and can be seen as a joint endeavor to formulate a comprehensive and objective history of printmaking.

Map of printmaking associations, conferences and fairs. Retrieved from the website of the International Print Center New York

Other presentations at conferences and symposia focus on theorizing graphics. For a long time, there was a lack of an appropriate theoretical position from which it was possible to accept various artifacts and works of art close to printmaking and to conceptualize numerous cases of authorial reflections of the media. Although the theory of printmaking has not yet been constituted as a scientific discipline in the true sense of the word, numerous studies and research have been done in this direction. They have a methodological structure, theoretical basis, developed their own conceptual apparatus and can serve as a scientific basis for setting up a fundamental theory of printmaking. A significant number of conference presentations are dedicated to the formulation of the theory of printmaking as systematic knowledge derived exclusively from the specifics of printmaking and its facts. Equally important is the effort of a large number of theorists and researchers in defining criteria for mapping, periodization, contextualization, and classification as historical facts those unexposed or insufficiently researched printmaking practices and phenomena from the past. This is especially true for the second half of the twentieth century, when printmaking recorded intensive intermedia production that differed from "pure" printmaking practice. While most cases represent only the transposition of modernist painting themes and styles onto the graphic sheet, later through the application of postmodernist strategies, a more radical interpretation of printmaking art followed in open opposition to established conventions. Such later examples of reflection on printmaking decenter the procedures from technical knowledge to conceptual knowledge. A noticeable shift from the technical to the theoretical basis referring to the creation and existence of some printmaking works, with the aim of ensuring the historical continuity of printmaking, requires a redefinition of its constitutive criteria. Research range from cases of technical experiments, via media extensions to the phenomenological turn in the understanding of printmaking, ultimately establishing an expanded field of meaning of the very concept of printmaking, which as such functions relationally towards artistic and social reality. This is the topic of numerous presentations at conferences and symposia and provides a more complete insight into the process of printmaking identity transformation.

The programs of conferences and symposiums show that the complexity of the phenomenon of the art of printmaking is still in the phase of accumulation. From the position of different geographical, cultural, historical and educational backgrounds, numerous exhibitors present (unfamiliar) local traditions and current phenomena. In that sense, the outcomes of scientific and research presentations at conferences and symposia deal with both redefining the media boundaries of printmaking as an artistic discipline and the critical transformation of the meaning of the term so that it equally embraces its historical and contemporary forms. The long dispute in the understanding of printmaking and in determining the border areas of the discipline in relation to its established and assumed contents is being overcome in this manner. It is certain that the final unification of two sharply opposed positions on printmaking that exist in completely different forms, the historical and the contemporary, will be reached in future conference discussions. The unification of these two poles in the dialectical overcoming of their opposites represents the potential for the formation of a complete theory of printmaking.

Equally important are the pedagogical character and didactic function of printmaking conferences and symposia. The publishing activity of conferences and symposia contribute to raising the quality of the knowledge system on printmaking. Published presentations, collections of papers and other editions constitute valuable professional literature and material for further research. Universities, art academies and faculties that organize these events provide their students with the opportunity to be actively involved in the organization and implementation of program activities. Thus, students gain experience they can further apply in education and professional careers. Also, presentations and discussions that students attend have a regulatory effect on the relationship between (school) practice and theory and are an incentive for the development of students' critical thinking in relation to specific works of art and practices or the knowledge system itself. Consequently, conferences and symposia have a positive impact on the pedagogical shift in institutional education from the model of educating artists-creators to contemporary practices of artists-researchers. Thus, young artists are prepared to be competitively included in the real currents of the contemporary art scene.

International and regional conferences and symposia form a global network for the exchange of views and knowledge on printmaking. They provide valuable infrastructure for all researchers and artists dealing with issues related to a better understanding of printmaking. They have become an integral part of the academic and professional community gathered around the study, cultivation and promotion of this art. The increase in the number of conferences and symposiums in the last decade indicates that printmaking is topical and vital, that there is a lasting interest in it and that it exceeds the limits of its domain, which certainly confirms printmaking as a phenomenon in the true sense of the word. In addition, presentations at this year's symposium Graphics on/beyond the Edge, organized by the Graphic Collective, will certainly contribute to a better understanding of the contemporary moment of printmaking and respect for its heritage.

Mr Miloš Đorđević, artist

Translation from Serbian: Vanda Perović

Miloš Đorđević finished magisterium studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade. He exhibited nationally and internationally, and participated in printmaking residencies and symposiums, including III Latgale Graphic Art Symposium, Daugavpils, Latvia (2014) and IMPACT International Printmaking Conference, (Scotland, 2013; China, 2015; Spain, 2018). In 2015 Spring issue of Printmaking Today Magazine editorial coverage was published about his work in Artist's eye section. His academic and research interests concentrate mainly on printmaking as multifaceted field of artistic practice and he has published several research papers on the subject.
Exhibitions: participated in international exhibitions, biennials and triennials in the country and abroad (Canada, USA, Mexico, Uruguay, Portugal, India, Romania, Spain, Belgium, France, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Italy, Belgium, Uruguay, China).
Awards: 2014 Public Vote, Printmaking Today International Print Biennial, Newcastle, England; 2010 Golden Needle at ULUS Spring Exhibition, Belgrade, Serbia; 2008 Purchase of Ministry of Culture, Belgrade, Serbia; 2005 Reward of Faculty of Education at VII International Dry Point Biennial, Uzice, Serbia.


M. Đorđević, Tonus II, interactive graphic installation
M. Đorđević, Edit, digital print


M. Đorđević, Lost Nature #2, digital print
M. Đorđević, Big Small #8, digital print



Graphic Collective Gallery, Dragoslava Jovanovića 11, Belgrade, Weekdays 12 - 20h, Saturdays 12 - 17h, Sundays closed
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