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The Print Center Announces Multipart Project of New Work by Carmen Winant

The Print Center (TPC) will present A Brand New End: Survival and Its Pictures, a solo photography-based exhibition of new work by Carmen Winant as part of a four-component project developed by the artist through intensive research — a hallmark of her category-defying practice. The project incorporates historical and contemporary representations of oppression, liberation, and self-expression drawn from the archive of Women In Transition (WIT), the 50-year-old Philadelphia organization providing services to empower people with the knowledge, support, and ability to thrive beyond domestic abuse/intimate partner violence and substance abuse.

Winant’s project highlights the power of print (photography and printmaking) in representing how women view themselves and how photography can serve as a tool in the struggle for individual autonomy and self-representation. Through its expansive consideration of image making, domestic violence, and the larger feminist movement, this project critically explores how women are supported in achieving personal agency with the help of organizations like WIT. On view at TPC from April 14 to July 16, 2022, with a related artist book release in October 2022, the exhibition is organized by Ksenia Nouril, PhD, Jensen Bryan Curator at The Print Center.

A Brand New End: Survival and Its Pictures is supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Winant, who was raised in Philadelphia, is translating, reproducing, and re-contextualizing imagery from WIT’s archive into artworks that will be installed in TPC galleries. Artistic interventions in public spaces will unfold in numerous public transportation sites around the city. The artist book builds on the legacy of feminist publications and printed materials as vehicles for expeditious and accessible dissemination of information. Public programs, some of which are organized in collaboration with WIT, are an integral component of the project, which aims to illuminate the often-invisible experiences of women and feminist strategies for survival, revolt, and self-determination.

The Print Center Executive Director Elizabeth Spungen said, “Carmen Winant is one of the most incisive artists of her generation. Her work is nothing short of radical — a bold provocation that pushes boundaries and reexamines feminist tropes. A natural extension of her photography-based practice, A Brand New End: Survival and Its Pictures is an exploration of ways in which survivors of domestic violence and substance abuse have pushed through societal and personal burdens to realize self-actualization. We are honored to present this multi-part project in partnership with Women In Transition and thank Corinne Lagermasini, WIT’s Executive Director, who is an essential thought-partner for the project.”

“Women In Transition is thrilled to be collaborating with Carmen Winant and The Print Center on this project, said Lagermasini. WIT has been giving voice to Survivors of domestic abuse/intimate partner violence and substance abuse for 50 years. Our archives reflect the role WIT has played in the larger feminist and domestic violence prevention movements and we are excited to see them bought to life through Carmen’s creative lens.”

Since March 2020, Winant has been exploring WIT’s extensive archive (a unique resource among such service organizations) that includes publications, how-to guides, manuals, staged photographs for instruction, newspaper clippings, and ephemera. The archive provides an extraordinary window into feminism and the women’s liberation movement that began in the 1970s, when WIT was established to help newly divorced women learn strategies for navigating and thriving in a new world. Founded as a multiracial feminist collective by women for women, it evolved over the decades as new issues commanded attention, such as abuse by partners and drug addiction. Surfacing these themes of intergeneration exchange, Winant’s project considers what has changed and how the ongoing deconstruction of patriarchal systems of oppression can influence feminist ideals today.

Nouril said, “As an artist, Carmen is constantly challenging herself, examining issues through the lens of feminism and personal agency. In WIT’s archive, she discovered a trove of material and, thanks to our colleagues and partners, plumbed aspects of feminist history and its representation including empowerment strategies. Centering on photographic works, mixed-media collage, public interventions, and installations, her practice is uniquely suited for this project. The overall outcome our visitors will encounter is a compendium of Carmen’s research, artistic manifestation of her investigations, and current resources. The project is particularly urgent at a time when COVID-19 has brought the impacts of intimate partner abuse to the forefront.”

In her practice, Winant gravitates towards how others use found images. For the exhibition, Winant is focusing on several categories of material including images of painted t-shirts from WIT’s participation in the Clothesline Project, 35mm slides, newspaper clippings and “job cards” from the mid to late 1970s.

Images of some 200 t-shirts from WIT’s Clothesline Project — active between 1996 and the early 2000s — will be displayed as projections. This initiative invited survivors of domestic abuse to create t-shirt designs that reflected on their path to safety. The title of the exhibition is inspired by one of these t-shirts, whose handwritten text reads, “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new end.”

The dozens of 35mm slides on display were used in WIT training exercises, tutorials, and news stories about the organization. These images, staged by WIT staff, depict self-defense methods, what to pack when leaving an abusive relationship, obtaining legal services, conducting job searches, and accessing counseling.

Some 100 newspaper clippings of stories about domestic abuse will be displayed recto and verso, highlighting their accidental juxtapositions with random news stories and advertisements. The result is a series of snapshots of moments in time.

The 40 “job cards” created by WIT feature images clipped from books and magazines to showcase various professions that women could consider while transitioning into the job market. The laminated cards comprise cut-out images mounted on multi-colored construction paper, with an explanation of what the job entails on the back. Another installation in the galleries includes five publications emblematic of WIT’s mission, such as The New Woman’s Survival Guide and Women in Transition: A Feminist Handbook on Separation and Divorce.

The public intervention further closes the space between art and information sharing. Rather than displaying examples of Winant’s photographs or promoting the exhibition, the artist-designed posters will incorporate infographics and texts that raise awareness of issues around domestic violence and resources available.

The artist book is a stand-alone artwork created in collaboration with graphic design studio Common Name. It will include materials from the exhibition, new images, and research, as well as contributions from Winant, Nouril, sociologists, survivors, art historians, poets, and WIT staff.

The roster of public programs — in-person and online — will be announced in early 2022.

About the Artist
Carmen Winant (born 1983, San Francisco, CA; lives in Columbus, OH) is an internationally recognized photography-based artist raised in Philadelphia who utilizes installation and collage strategies to examine feminist modes of survival and revolt.

Winant’s recent projects have been shown at Patron Gallery, Chicago, IL; Wexner Center of the Arts, Columbus, OH; Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York; as well as Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway. In 2019, Winant mounted 26 of her billboards across Canada as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Current and forthcoming projects and commissions take place at ICA Boston, MA; Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA as well as Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City. In 2023, a solo exhibition will take place at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN.

Winant’s recent artist books include My Birth (SPBH Editions and Image Text Ithaca Press, 2018) and Notes on Fundamental Joy (Printed Matter Inc., 2019). Her work is part of the collections of Museum of Contemporary Photography (MOCP), Chicago, IL; Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles; The Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; as well as Henie Onstad Art Center, Høvikodden, Norway.

Winant is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow in photography, a 2020 FCA Grant recipient in Art, and a 2021 American Academy of Arts and Letters Honoree. She holds a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles and an MA and MFA from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco. She has been a Resident and Dean at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Madison, ME. The Print Center received a 2020 Pew Center for Arts & Heritage grant for Winant to realize her project A Brand New End: Survival and Its Pictures.

About The Print Center
For more than a century, The Print Center has encouraged the growth and understanding of photography and printmaking as vital contemporary arts through exhibitions, publications, and educational programs. The Print Center has an international voice and a strong sense of local purpose. Free and open to the public, it presents changing exhibitions, which highlight established and emerging, local, national, and international contemporary artists. It mounts one of the oldest art competitions in the country, now in its 96th year and the Gallery Store offers the largest selection of contemporary prints and photographs available for sale in Philadelphia, as well as being available online.

Support for The Print Center is offered by Bryn Mawr Trust; COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL Fund; Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation; Forman Family Fund; Sheila Fortune Foundation; Fund for Children; Allen Hilles Fund; Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation; Christopher Ludwick Foundation; Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; William Penn Foundation; Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage; Philadelphia Cultural Fund; The Philadelphia Foundation; Rosenlund Family Foundation; Henrietta Tower Wurts Memorial; and our Board of Governors, Luminaries, members and friends.

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Carmen Winant. Photo by Jordan Weitzman