Shop PortfoliosVolunteers

Global Paper 4: International Triennial of Paper Art in Deggendorf

Summer 2019
Summer 2019
, Number
Article starts on page

Michael Durgin has degrees in English and Teaching from Oberlin College and Brown University, respectively. He is the co-founder and former editor of Hand Papermaking. His initial interest in handmade paper grew to encompass book arts more broadly. He lives in Germany, where he explores book culture and  provides learning support at an international school. The year 2018 marked the fourth iteration of "Papier Global: Internatio-nale Papierkunst Triennale" which takes place every three years in the southeastern Bavarian town of Deggendorf, Germany. The months-long event filled more than a half-dozen rooms in two institutions, the Hand-craft Museum and the adjacent Municipal Historical Museum. Almost four hundred artists applied to be included, submitting images to a jury consisting of the museum director Birgitta Petschek- Sommer, museum research assistant Anja Fröhlich, and guest juror He-lene Tschacher, past president of IAPMA (International Association of Papermakers and Paper Artists). The final selection of almost one hun-dred artworks included nearly as many artists from more than twenty countries. German artists were the largest contingent, but several other European countries were represented, along with more distant locations, such as Iran, South Korea, Colombia, and the United States.

Purchase Issue

Other Articles in this Issue

Jurors and museum staff thoughtfully organized the presentation based on thematic and visual affinities among the works, whether quali-ties of the paper, color, or sensibility. This created useful and provocative contexts between disparate works that otherwise might have remained randomly isolated. This careful grouping and display were commend-able and, to my mind, represented special strength in the curatorial as-pect of staging such a large exhibit. Many of the works, produced during the timeframe of the consider-able influx of refugees into Europe from Syria, Iraq, and Africa, focused on the perilous journeys and reflected the sometimes-guarded recep-tions encountered by refugees. Other themes that emerged included technology, the human body, and city spaces. The accompanying catalogue for the exhibit is a substantial, hard-cover book, with high-resolution photographs and careful design. Essays by the mayor of Deggendorf and two of the jurors (Petschek-Sommer and Tschacher), as well as a brief history of IAPMA by Tschacher and Eva Juras, provide context for the exhibition within the triennial series and background on the emergence of paper as an artistic medium over the past forty years. Each work included in the exhibit is depicted at least once in the publication, with a description of the materials and a brief artist statement in both German and English. The art is presented in alphabetical order by the artist's last name, which makes for an easy reference; grouping them as arranged in the exhibit would have been the other logical option, which could have led to less jarring contrasts in the catalogue. While the scope of work was broader than handmade paper—encompassing manipulated corrugated cardboard, distorted and repurposed newspapers, and carefully arranged commercial pa-per trimmings—the exhibit included a fair sampling of artists working directly with their own paper or using purchased hand-made paper in the works. Among the more striking works on handmade paper are Spuren I, II, III (Spores I, II, III) by Swiss artist Irène Dussoix. The ghostly images on sheets of black-dyed handmade reed-grass paper are formed by the spores from fungal agaric mushrooms. The interplay of the artist's intentional arrangements and the ran-dom reproductive expression of the mushrooms demonstrates a powerful balance of control and chance. Timo Hoheisel (Germany) removes the text blocks from books and repulps them individually, forming the material into small bricks of varying dimensions, then arranging them along-side each other. Subtle variations in color are achieved, again by chance, from the contents of the original text blocks—paper, ink, illustrations. Each work is titled using a quote from the original printed text that the artist had rendered incomprehensible. More intentional control is expressed by Ingrid Golz (Germa-ny) in Schnittmengen, achtteilig (Intersections, eight-part). Grasses and other elements are embedded between sheets of flax, cotton, and abaca. Thin, uniform strips were then cut from the sheets and arranged with the cut edges exposed, ranging in appearance from pointillist surface to macramé to ikat. Another German artist, Alexandra Hendrikoff, incorporates handmade mulberry papers with other natural elements to  create fantastical objects that are not quite recognizable. Some-where between sea creatures and highly magnified microscopic beings, these imagined forms combine the delicate with the slightly menacing: a red center to a rounded, semitransparent form (Love your fears) or a fuzzy green pod that might burst open at any minute (Hope).  With Mink, Jocelyn Châteauvert (US) uses abaca to create an-other object that might have come from the sea, perhaps found on a remote beach, like dried kelp but exquisitely sculpted. In her artist statement, Châteauvert mentions the element of chance she encounters as a piece dries and how she then burnishes and stretches the object into its final form.   Sara Nikpoor (Iran) makes two-color, low-relief images of faces in her Portrait Series I. The six images on small panels are stylized and alternately comical or grotesque. The artist writes, "There are no permanent facts and, for everyone, only his/her thought is fact . . . " Whether personal or political statements, these simple images leave a strong impression. The pulp-written names in Miriam Londoño's Interwoven Names are both visually appealing and directly political: they are common names of Syrian people. The Colombian artist inten-tionally sought to memorialize otherwise anonymous refugees. Using bright colors and an open-grid network, she also evokes the diversity of the group and suggests both fragility and the image of a net, alternately safeguarding and confining, for people who have been forced to leave their homes. There are many works to acknowledge among the rest of the exhibit, from cut paper to repurposed comic books and maps, and from altered books to collaged photographic images. I enjoyed seeing the broad range of works and how the pieces incorporat-ing handmade paper fit into this larger field of paper art. I com-mend the organizers of this exhibition and look forward to hear-ing about the next cycle of this triennial series.