View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
This is one of a suite of twelve prints in a portfolio entitled Polvo Impreso meaning ‘printed dust’. The images were created by pressing layers of lint onto soft ground etching plates and printing the resulting texture, using the chine collé technique, onto natural Gampi (a very thin paper) laid on Fabriano Tiepolo paper. The portfolio was printed by Jacob Samuel, Santa Monica, USA and published by the artist and Editions & Artists’ Books Johan Deumens, Heemstede, the Netherlands. Tate’s copy is the twenty-second in the edition of twenty-five plus seven sets of artist’s proofs. Ten copies are bound books; the remaining fifteen are in loose portfolios, presented in a box. Tate’s is one of the loose portfolios.
In a text that accompanies the prints Orozco has explained the concepts and processes underlying the work:
Twelve configurations appeared while imprinting layers of lint on to a copper plate. The lint was obtained from clothes drying machines. They are familiar residues from washing and drying our everyday clothes. They are twelve skins of dust, leftovers from textile fabrics and from our bodies: they contain human skin and hair ... Twelve compositions of particles ... became an image, but dust and image are contrary. Dust tends to cover the image and convert it into an object. Dust converts the window into a wall. Dust is space but not a landscape. There is no illusion, just the illusion of an illusion. And this is a book. When it is open, like any book, dust flies away, and when we read it, like any book, we read an image in spite of dust.
(Artist’s text on colophon page of portfolio.)
Orozco’s portfolio recalls Dust Breeding, 1920, a photograph produced collaboratively by Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) with photographer Man Ray (1890-1976). Duchamp allowed dust to accumulate on the back of part of his complex work in process, The Large Glass (1915-23, see Tate T02011) for several months, after which Man Ray photographed it. Duchamp subsequently wiped away most of the dust, leaving a small area which he varnished over in order to fix it to the glass and retain the effect visible from the front side of the work. In Man Ray’s photograph, the dust appears as texture resembling a surreal topography. In Orozco’s portfolio, where sections of lint are unevenly shaped, a dark, textured form floats against the background, its contours suggesting a landmass and long-distance cartography. Other irregularly shaped pieces of lint create impressions recalling the skeletons of leaves, the bark of trees or the textures of stone. More regularly shaped lint sections result in darker areas either side of the print indicating thicker edges and have a more monotone appearance. The portfolio maps a range of fibre densities and additional elements: on one image the imprints of fabric weave and tiny fragments of paper are visible; another is covered by an irregular grid of interweaving hairs. Dark speckling, possibly caused by tiny pieces of grit and fine, dark lines appear drawn in ink on the slightly metallic Grampi paper while in another more densely-covered image; a shadowy form evokes a foetus scanned in the womb or an archaeological presence.
Orozco is a Mexican artist living in Paris, New York and Mexico City. He works in a wide variety of media, making installations, objects, photographs and videos that document ordinary and ephemeral aspects of life and often focus on movement and chance. Many of his works use found objects or materials and make subtle interventions into public space, exploring the relationship between this space and the world of private thought and observation. The Lint Book portfolio continues the interplay of ephemerality and permanence, stasis and movement that recurs throughout Orozco’s work. Lintels 2001 (Marian Goodman Gallery, New York) is an installation of hanging sections of just such tumble-dryer lint as was used to make the print portfolio.
Jessica Morgan, Common Wealth, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London 2003, pp.13-14, 31-2, 42-51, 54, 78-80 and 82
Gabriel Orozco, exhibition catalogue, Serpentine Gallery, London 2004, p.124
Jean-Pierre Criqui, Molly Nesbit and Angeline Scherf, Gabriel Orozco: Trabajo, Paris and Cologne 2003