In 1924, László Moholy-Nagy came up with the idea of inviting artists and students from the Bauhaus to produce a portfolio of prints to celebrate Walter Gropius’ birthday. Moholy-Nagy asked everyone to make a work in response to a press photograph published in the weekly supplement “Zeitbilder” in which a loudspeaker sits on a stage pronouncing the outcome of the German general election in Potsdamer Platz 1924.
Almost a century later, elections held across Europe clearly indicate a level of change and uncertainty not experienced in the post-war era. The June 23rd referendum in the UK, which resulted in its decision to leave the European Union, has sent shock waves through the remaining 27 states of the union and has far reaching implications, none more so than between the Republic of Ireland and the UK.
Paralleling Moholy-Nagy’s format, the collaborative portfolio project BALLOT invites artists, academics and students from institutions and organisations situated within the east of UK and Ireland to make editioned prints in response to the process of elections and referenda. It encourages connections between historic and contemporary political affairs and aims to raise an awareness of the volatility of democratic processes. It elicits response to a global perspective, but also to the unique relationship between the UK and The Republic of Ireland, the UK’s only land border with another European country.
The print portfolio project was started at Norwich University of the Arts in 2002. Since the first initial studio-based project in 2002, NUA has produced 12 portfolios, including collaborations with California State University USA, Asagaya College of Art and Design Japan, Boston University USA and Falmouth University UK. The collaboration this year with CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork Printmakers, Print to the People in Norwich is an ambitious task.
The enthusiastic response to the project is an indication of the enduring efficacy of print in a digital age and a reassurance that ideas and opinions can be shared through materiality. BALLOT is an activity operating within and part-funded by the Created and Contested Territories research group at NUA. BALLOT was previously exhibited as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival and in Nunn’s Yard Gallery in Norwich in 2017.