Contested IV comprises the printmaker’s plates. Mezzotint and etched copper, photo-polymer gravure plates, and laser cut and etched acrylic, are mirrored by, and adjacent to, the subsequent prints. The oddly shaped fragments consisting of different materials are held in stasis by a grid system, and as such resemble a map, however the viewer is also presented with a form strongly reminiscent of the Rorschach test. The well-known ink blot test used by Rorschach in the diagnosis of schizophrenia shares an obvious affinity with the materials and processes common to printmaking, and it seems fitting that Rorschach’s psycho-diagnostic plates should serve as a point of departure (or arrival) in a gallery setting where the viewer assumes the roles of both analyst and analysand. However, a deeper affinity is implied here, one in which a comparison is drawn between the sociopolitical and geopolitical. As mental illness is thought to occupy the territory of the sufferer, and the mind of the schizophrenic regarded as contested, so too the nation state.
Places and their histories inform the contextual research undertaken. The works are indeed derived from maps. The colouring of both the plates and prints of Contested IV has special significance; the orange of the copper, the white wall behind the acrylic, and green of the photo-polymer correspond to India’s flag, whilst the dark green and white of the prints themselves reference that of Pakistan. The central ‘contested’ territory is Kashmir, with India below and Pakistan to the side. The plates and prints warrant close inspection, the surface imagery – consisting of signifiers of cultural identity, is itself contested, occupied by another layer competing for one’s attention. What appear to be networks of roads and rivers correlating to geographic locations could just as easily be neuronal networks, a central nervous system, or a cross-section of the cerebral cortex. Place names have all but been erased, but the fragments of words, and odd letters and numbers that remain suggest a further layer of complexity, and this ciphered content, neither fully described nor defined, returns one to the ambiguities of the Rorschach test.
The delineation of the shapes of Contested II: Unconfigured (above) is not arbitrary, the cut along the central section follows a portion of the demarcation line drawn during the armistice agreements between Israeli and Arab forces in 1949.