Emma Nishimura and Tahir Carl Karmali
Paper Borders

International Print Center New York (IPCNY), New York / United States

October 10–December 18, 2019
October 8, 2019
Panel: History as Matrix: October 26, 1–4pm, Emma Nishimura and Tahir Carl Karmali in conversation with Regine Basha, Senior Program Associate, Civitella Ranieri Foundation
Opening: October 10, 6–8pm
Press & members preview: October 10, 4:30–6pm
Workshop: Blended Stories: December 7, 1–4pm, Drop-in papermaking workshop with Tahir Carl Karmali

International Print Center New York (IPCNY)
International Print Center New York
508 West 26th Street, 5A
New York, NY 10001
United States

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International Print Center New York is pleased to announce its first two-person exhibition, Paper Borders, which brings into dialogue the works of Emma Nishimura (b. 1982, Toronto) and Tahir Carl Karmali (b. 1987, Nairobi), artists who share a commitment to unearthing historical and ongoing stories of migration, trans-generational memory, and xenophobia. Using the tactility of print and handmade paper, the two- and three-dimensional works and large-scale installations on view speak to cross-cultural and deeply embedded global struggles. Here, the precarity of paper becomes a metaphor for the precarity of place.

The accompanying publication features an essay by Kelly Baum, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, on Nishimura and Karmali’s work, emphasizing how “theirs are artistic interventions that involve poetry as much as politics, in which the evidence of struggles suffered, survived, and resisted are subject to almost alchemical transformations, incorporated into the very substance of the objects they create. The resulting works are as poignant as they are critical and as politically charged as they are ethically minded.”

This exhibition is the first in-depth New York presentation of Nishimura’s work, which centers on the Japanese Canadian Internment during World War II and is rooted in her own family history, inherited narratives, and archival research. Nishimura literally and symbolically wraps stories, images, and memories of the internment into new forms, such as the prominent work An Archive of Rememory (2016–ongoing), which shapes these stories into traditional Japanese bundles called furoshiki. Through an installation of hundreds of paper furoshiki, as well as a series of text-based etchings, this little-known history is brought to light.

Karmali’s large-scale paper works and installations engage materials and processes surrounding issues of colonization, nationality, and authenticity. Karmali’s own hand pulped paper incorporates government-issued documents that trace family history—from his paternal family’s paperwork showing their change in citizenship after Kenya's 1963 independence from Britain, to his own application for a visa to relocate from Nairobi to New York. Dried on rusted steel plates, Karmali’s paper absorbs abstract rust marks that reference blood and soil. With the addition of photo-transfer and collaged elements, these works unfold a layered, material record of lived experience.

IPCNY Director Judy Hecker remarks, “How Emma and Tahir transform materials highlights the fluidity with which artists today move among mediums­, and underscores the expanding boundaries of printmaking’s methods.” Similarly, the exhibition title reflects the multiple meanings bound within the words "paper" and "borders." Paper acts as an apparatus for mark-making and sculptural experimentation, or as a pass validating identity and movement from one territory to another; while borders can be hard lines between territories, or fragile and shifting.

Read more about the exhibition, on view October 10–December 18, at ipcny.org.

Also on view
New Prints In Focus: Tia Blassingame, Allison Conley, and Inês Martins
This focused presentation showcases new work created by our most recent New Prints Artists-in-Residence in their former studio space.

Thursday, October 24–Saturday, October 26: PRINTFEST
IPCNY’s annual MFA & senior BFA student print fair, held at a new location, 550 West 29th Street, ground floor.

Press inquiries: Contact Sari Weisenberg at sari [​at​] ipcny.org or call T 212 989 5090.
Group and school visits: Contact Megan Duffy at megan [​at​] ipcny.org or call T 212 989 5090.

International Print Center New York is New York’s flagship non-profit arts institution dedicated to the innovative presentation of prints by emerging, established, national, and international artists.