by Jon Cronshaw
Over the next few months artist Maurice Carlin will be transforming the drab interior of abandoned warehouse into a vibrant space filled with over 400 colourful prints.
But it is not an exhibition in the traditional sense, the processes of making the prints and the ways that the audience are encouraged to interact with the space sets Performance Publishing apart from your average exhibition.
Relief prints will be taken of the floor and brickwork, and displayed in a way that maps and scans the existing building.
Using a series of webcams, audiences can observe and respond to how Maurice uses the warehouse to create his unique prints, seeing his process as an act of performance art which is just as valid as the finished prints.
The artist wants to raise questions about how we experience art in a digital age, and where the essence of an artwork's meaning is actually located.
“Most people now engage with culture on multiple platforms. So we rarely see just a finished artwork anymore: we might see an image on a screen, and then see it in a book differently cropped in a different resolution; we might see the work in person in an art gallery or on a poster in someone's bedroom,” says Maurice.
“All of this adds up to a contemporary engagement with art and culture - and all are valid.”
Maurice's process is derived from an ancient Chinese method of relief printing which he learnt while on a residency in Beijing earlier this year. It is a technique that was originally used to copy the inscriptions from stone monuments, but is now being used to respond to a derelict building on a Salford industrial estate.
“It represents the very first time that information was able to be copied and distributed, so it represents the birth of publishing,” explains Maurice.
“I'm interested in this expanded idea of publishing - away from the book, and engaging with public space and seeing publishing as kind of interface with the public.”
For Maurice, the process of making artwork can become a type of performance when done in a public space rather than in privacy of his studio. And in the past, he has taken the idea of street art to a new level.
“I would turn up on Market Street, which is a really busy shopping street in Manchester, and take prints from the surface of the street. It's a kind of performance and a studio in open space.”
To spark discussion about his latest project, Maurice has called upon five writers from around the world to write articles based on their experiences of of his project – none of them will visit the warehouse, they will write about what they see through the webcams.
“It's based on a series that American publication Art News did in the 1950s called 'Paint a Picture',” explains Maurice.
“They sent journalists out to track the development of a single painting. They visited the studios of people like Jackson Pollock and William de Kooning three or four times and then wrote articles about the process.”
The artist sees his current project as being located far beyond the walls of the warehouse, and believes that the engagement with an online audience is a key element of his work.
“I really want to hear from the public about this work,” says Maurice, “part of the reason that it's been developed in public, is that I really want to have this dialogue with people. It doesn't have to be this one-way communication thing.”
With our assumptions about what constitutes a finished work of art called into question, this is a show that will constantly evolve and will be worth revisiting again and again.
Maurice Carlin, Performance Publishing is on display at Regents Trading Estate, Salford.
The exhibition is open to the public Wednesday to Saturday until July 22, and vis appointment until September 22.
You can view Performance Publishing online at: www.mauricecarlin.com.