A threshold is a space of transition, a passage from one place to another. To think of a threshold is to think of movement, of leaving something behind and engaging in something new. And yet, a threshold is also a space unto itself. To connect here to there, it must have its own structure, whether defined through distance and time, states of mind or social conditions. In this period of global turmoil and struggle, we exist in and on a threshold. But what is the nature of the threshold and what lies beyond it? This is the premise of Threshold, an exhibition of a printmaking portfolio curated by artist and educator Nicholas Ruth from the US.
Created as part of the International Print Exchange Programme (IPEP) India’s annual activity, the exhibition is organised by the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi. Threshold, which has travelled across the world, showcases works of printmakers from 17 countries. IPEP India is Mumbai-based artist-curator Rajesh Pullarwar’s non-profit initiative for printmakers to share their work with each other across the globe. Since 2013, this initiative has spawned a community of 295 participants from 45 countries, contributing to a fantastic run of over 80 exhibitions around the world.
COVID-19, reflects Ruth, continues to wreak havoc in our families and societies, further complicating reckonings with structural inequities and the resurgence of long-standing regional conflicts. Though challenges surround us, some bonds between us deepen and hope persists. This in-between place may be a kind of confinement and stasis, or it may be the cusp of freedom and progress.
Printmakers have a celebrated history of shining a light on the urgencies of each time and place. Each print itself is a kind of threshold, a portal through which new ideas and feelings can be shared and explored. Because it is built on traditions involving the economical production and mass distribution of the multiple, printmaking has profoundly facilitated the wide dissemination of images and text. IPEP India extends this tradition by gathering the work of artists from across the world and inviting each artist to share their portfolio within their communities. In this way, Ruth adds, it is possible for printmakers to stand in the thresholds envisioned by artists from places very different from their own — to recognise what connects and separates, to revel in beautiful expressions of human experience, and to build compassion as a result.

“The 2021 IPEP India exchange portfolio offers this invitation to consider the notion of the threshold in all its interpretations, so that we may continue the critical work of creatively responding to being where we are and considering where we will go,” says Ruth.
The exhibition is on at the Government Museum Art Gallery till September 15.
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