From Iceland — THE PRESENT IS OVER! Print & Friends Talk The Beauty Of Printmaking & The Virtual World

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Art Bicnick & Owen Fiene

As a flicker of light appears at the end of the pandemic tunnel, we sat down with the next generation of Icelandic artists to discuss the future. The conversations were freeform—some focused on the upcoming years, others reflected on realisations from the past months, others still looked with wide-eyes at the future of the scene, which has only grown within the restrictions of the coronavirus.

Presenting, an artistic vision of the future, as told by the future. Today, we talk to Print & Friends.

Note: In the print version of this article, the photos of Print & Friends artwork as well as their studio lacked photo credit. They were taken by photographer Owen Fiene. We deeply apologise for the mistake.

Print & Friends. Photo by Art Bicnick

Print & Friends

The name Print & Friends is an apt one, Sigurður Atli Sigurðsson and Leifur Ýmir Eyjólfsson explain, because if the pair is about anything, it’s printmaking and collaboration.

In fact, both are so passionate about printmaking that talking to them feels like attending a lively discussion at university—to them, printmaking is much more than a means of production or even a medium in itself, it’s a topic of study whose ethos can provoke endless discourse.

“Print & Friends is a collective revolving around printmaking, but it’s kind of an open playground,” Leifur explains when asked to distil it down to its essence. “From the beginning, it’s been focused on the collaborative aspect of printmaking, more than necessarily production. It’s the dialogue and the community.”

The pair have sought to push the established boundaries of the practice, approaching printmaking in a more “nonchalant way.” Within the printmaking community, both explain, there are divisions between those that hold fast to conserve old methods and those pushing it forward. “But you need both,” Sigurður Atli admits. “Some people conserve the knowledge that is there and some people find new ways of making it. Between is the collaboration of these two that creates something interesting.”

Print & Friends

Sigurður Atli Sigurðsson, Seating Arrangement. Photo by Owen Fiene.

Take your time

While the pandemic made in-person collaboration difficult, it gave artists time to breathe, Leifur explains. In both of their views, the build-up to 2020 saw the schedules of many visual artists becoming increasingly rigorous, potentially putting them into pressure-cooker scenarios where they weren’t in the position to make their best work. COVID-19 provided a forced break.

“It’s very good to take your time,” Leifur explains. “It’s benefiting artists to have more time to develop their ideas and deepen their work method. People are taking more time and producing more quality work. There’s not this rush because everything has slowed down, so I see that as a plus.”

Print & Friends

Leifur Ýmir Eyjólfsson, Manuscript. Photo by Owen Fiene.

Virtual world

That said, Sigurður Atli sees the downsides of this pandemic in experiences like, well, this interview with the Grapevine, which is conducted via Zoom. “On a larger scale, you take these types of meetings,” Sigurður Atli says. “We can get our words across, but there’s something missing. And when you’re teaching, there’s something missing with the students and the students feel it too. You can’t do an online lecture like you would in a classroom. The physical link is missing.”

But Sigurður Atli thinks that this loss of connection will grow into a greater appreciation of it—and human contact in general—once restrictions abate.

“In situations like this, it’s the feeling of a community [that’s lost]. People getting together just to see a performance,” he continues. “For example, I went to a dance performance yesterday and it was amazing to be there.”

For art, the lack of in-person interaction will hopefully cause a mass re-sensitisation to art in general. For Sigurður Atli, it already has.

“This summer, I went to an exhibition and I was just completely overwhelmed. I saw the work and I was besides myself, completely amazed,” he smiles. “And my friend, who was working there, said ‘Siggi, this is just art.’ But I wasn’t used to seeing an exhibition in space, in real life, anymore,” he concludes. “Hopefully this will lead to people going to an art museum and actually really looking at the work.”

Print & Friends. Photo by Owen Fiene.

Check out Print & Friends on their website.

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