Arts·Print's Not Dead

Brendan Fernandes uses lithography and dance to mourn those who fell in the Pulse nightclub shooting

At NSCAD's lithography workshop, Brendan Fernandes is looking back - to NSCAD's history and to the tragic killing of 49 people in an Orlando nightclub.

"In the Orlando massacre, 49 people who were dancing fell to the floor and did not get up again."

Brendan Fernandes on how dance, NSCAD history and the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting came together in one densely layered print. Filmmaker: Marcia Connolly 5:44

Eight Canadian artists have returned to the famed lithography workshop at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, to work with a master and create some fresh prints. Print's Not Dead follows these artists through the process — how they're making their works and the thinking that informed them.

Print is flat. It's two-dimensional, tightly compressed before it ends up in its final form. But in the work of Brendan Fernandes, created for the lithography workshop at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, printmaking becomes richly layered.

To create his print In Pose, Fernandes looked both to his work in visual art and in dance. As part of the group of eight artists resurrecting the legacy of NSCAD's famed lithography workshop, Fernandes turned to the work of the iconic 1960s American conceptual and minimalist artist Sol Lewitt for inspiration.

(Images courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago.)

Lewitt used to leave detailed instructions so that his work could be executed or installed in places he wasn't. Fernandes quotes one of his set of instructions to make a print: "Print the result in four colors: yellow, black, red and blue by turning the stone a quarter turn for each color." This sort of clearly defined structure appealed to Fernandes, who then applied the same kind of rules to choreographing a dance performance and creating his own lithograph.

In this video made by filmmaker Marcia Connolly, Fernandes takes you through how he layered his interest in Sol Lewitt with his grief for the Pulse nightclub shooting that happened in Orlando on June 12, 2016. He explains how the 49 bodies of dancers in his print stand for the 49 people killed in that shooting, and how the gesture of falling became central to both the choreography and the motif that is the focus of his print. 

(Images courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago.)

This video is part of a new CBC Arts series called Print's Not Dead documenting eight artists working in NSCAD's lithography workshop in the present day — stay tuned for more to come. You can see the exhibition of these artists' works at NSCAD Lithography Workshop: Contemporary Editionson view at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia until April 26, 2020.

Find out more about the NSCAD Lithography Workshop and explore the works that have come out of it since 1969 here. And you can follow Brendan Fernandes here. The dance featured in this piece, called In Pose, For Camera, debuts in Spring 2020 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Images in this video are courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago.

(Images courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago.)

Stream CBC Arts: Exhibitionists or catch it on CBC Television Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT). Watch more videos here.

About the Author

Lise Hosein is a producer at CBC Arts. Before that, she was an arts reporter at JazzFM 91, an interview producer at George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. When she's not at her CBC Arts desk she's sometimes an art history instructor and is always quite terrified of bees.