Oliver Hambsch

Material memory: An exploration into the materiality of printmaking as a contemporary analogy for memory

Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Art and Craft

My practice is rooted in printmaking. I locate it in the intersection of the three fields of printmaking, materialism and memory studies. Print has long been used as a metaphorical device to help conceptualise memory by likening memories to impressions or imprints left by an event on the mind's cognitive surface. The analogical parallels are not only linguistic but are also rooted in material and process. While the vernacular metaphor of memory as an impression is engaging in its simplicity, it is also reductive and misleading. I propose that using a holistic approach to printmaking, that extends beyond the image and includes material and process as essential meaning-forming aspects, new visual analogies that consider current science-based understanding of memory and speak in ways where written or spoken language fail can be generated. The research proposed for this project will focus on an experimental methodology with materiality and process in the workshop. The intention of my artistic research is to produce artwork that responds to my theoretical concerns through a contemporary printmaking practice. In addition to Printmaking Theory, the study will also draw on theories such as Materialism, Photography Theory, Intersubjective Memory and Hauntology, as well as draw on the work of several other artists to establish a theoretical and practical foundation on which to conduct research.

Oliver Hambsch is a German/South African artist currently working as a Ph.D. research fellow at the Art and Craft Department at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts. He completed his Master of Fine Art degree in 2022 at the University of Cape Town, Michaelis School of Fine Art, with a specialisation in printmaking. The primary focus of his work is how a conceptual engagement with printmaking can be used as a metaphorical device to express the processes and experiences of memory, as well as extending printmaking beyond the image to include its material and paratextual information. His work is frequently based on found footage, specifically originating from his family’s photo and film archive.