Work in Focus from Impress: MA Curating Exhibition 2014

By Jazia Hammoudi, MA Curating Student

Great Mosque, Samarra, Iraq is one of two superb blind embossed prints that the London-based artists Langlands & Bell generously lent for Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art, on display in The Courtauld Gallery until 20 July.

The print is one of ten ground plans of famous mosques from around the world represented in the Enclosure and Identity portfolio. Langlands & Bell have long been interested in the socio-political implications of architecture. Dealing with religious buildings, along with political infrastructure, cultural institutions, and historic sites is part of their rich artistic practice.

View of Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq. Courtesy of Langlands & Bell

Great Mosque, Samarra, Iraq. Courtesy of Langlands & Bell

Blind embossing, a kind of stamping without ink, creates visually subtle prints that emphasize texture and dimension.

In Great Mosque, Samarra, Iraq, this process accentuates the mosque’s precise geometry, making for an elegant, sculptural image.

As an example of print making expanded, it speaks to the ways that centers’ of worship organize our lives and communities, sometimes invisibly.

The prints in Enclosure & Identity use architecture to investigate how religious institutions, along with secular and political organizations, play a major role in structuring identity within societies and in global contexts.

A view of the Great Mosque of Samarra‘s minaret, Malwiyah. Image courtesy of Architecture & Design Website

A view of the Great Mosque of Samarra‘s minaret, Malwiyah. Image courtesy of Architecture & Design Website

On another note, displaying the architectural plan of this particular mosque feels particularly relevant in light of recent history. This historically significant building has been heavily damaged in recent years due to intermittent warfare.

It was commissioned by the Abbasid Caliph (head of state) Al-Mutawakkil in the 9th century, and is one of the largest mosques in the world, measuring 240 meters long by 160 meters wide. It is particularly famous for its spiral minaret, the Malwiyah — ‘snail shell’ in Arabic – which stands 52 meters high.

Part of the top of the Malwiyah, was bombed in 2006 during the Iraq War. As a result, UNESCO declared the city of Samarra, including the Great Mosque, a World Heritage Site in 2007. Hopefully it will remain intact and inspire artists for centuries to come.


Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art runs until 20 July 2014.
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Texts, Talks and Technicalities: MA Curating Exhibition 2014

Jazia Hammoudi, MA Curating Student

With the 20 June opening of Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art fast approaching, this week was full of major decisions.

Now that the loan letters are off and we have a pretty good idea of our layout in the galleries, we’ve started to focus more heavily on the slightly less glamorous but still absolutely essential parts of exhibition planning.

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing and modifying our installation schedule, due to begin 9 June in The Courtauld Gallery. We’ve hired painters, calculated the amount and cost of the supplies we need, and coordinated deliveries for art works with the Arts Council Collection.


View of MA Curating students working on their forthcoming exhibition

Behind the scenes – MA Curating

Our press and marketing team have also been working overtime to advertise the exhibition through social media and other avenues (check out our fabulous Instagram MACurating), and our events team have outlined different kinds of talks, evenings, and workshops for anyone and everyone to enjoy.

We’re planning on having a whole series of lunchtime and weekend talks that will focus on different pieces and topics in the show. Make sure to look out for the events schedule, and tweet at @MACurating if there are any particular artworks you want to hear us discuss!

The kinds of texts we want to include have also come under close scrutiny this week, and after some deliberation we’ve decided to produce a small booklet.

It’s going to be an accompaniment to the displays, with an introduction about the show, useful information on printmaking techniques (just to refresh everyone’s memory!), and a few short essays on major themes we’d like to point out.

We’ve also finished writing wall texts, which have been quite challenging. Writing an explanation of an artist’s methods, background, and place in our show all in less than 90 words is no easy task!

Now it’s back to work. Keep checking for more updates on our process.

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Impress: Print Making Expanded in Contemporary Art  20 June – 20 July 2014