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Ruth Pelzer-Montada is an academic researcher and teacher with a background and interest in both the theory and practice of contemporary art and visual culture.
After a degree in German Literature and Political Science and a postgraduate teaching qualification at the University of Heidelberg, Ruth came to Scotland and taught German at different Scottish universities on a programme organised by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). After gaining a BA (Hon) in Drawing and Painting in 1989 she has been teaching Visual Culture at ECA and other Scottish art colleges while pursuing her research through both artistic projects and written publications. In 2009 she completed her practice-related PhD ‘Poetics of Repetition’. Her work has been exhibited both in Scotland and abroad. She has contributed papers to various conferences on visual culture as well as prints/printmaking.
From 2004 to 2007 Ruth was on the Council of the Scottish Society of Artists (SSA).
Between 2010-2012 she acted as External Examiner for Printmaking at NCAD, Dublin.
Key words: contemporary art; intermediality; prints/printmaking; seriality/copy/repetition; site-specific installation
The mutual intersection of art and visual culture discourse with prints and printmaking is at the centre of Ruth’s research. Her teaching and research are closely intertwined: Informed by her teaching of Visual Culture at various art schools in Scotland her artistic practice since 1998 has involved printmaking and installation. Her critical and theoretical concerns in turn have been informed by her artistic practice. ‘Repetition as difference’ as a practical and poetic metaphor encapsulates the interweaving of a multi-dimensionally understood ‘practice’ and ‘theory’ relationship which characterises Ruth’s aesthetic project and written research. In particular it has been the driving basis of her aesthetic practice, by means of the spiralling, virulent repetition of self-same marks or lines through printmaking. This creative agenda tackles the reproductive nature of print and its predisposition for repetition and encompasses both site-specific and material research into printing methods and curatorial approaches.
In her writing Ruth is interested in contributing to the development of a critically and aesthetically informed discourse of contemporary prints and printmaking.
In addition to developing her artistic practice, Ruth has contributed to numerous conferences and academic as well as subject-specific publications. Her essays on contemporary printmaking and art practice have appeared in Visual Culture in Britain, the Journal of Visual Art Practice and the College Art Association’s (CAA) Art Journal as well as the Conference Proceedings of IMPACT, the bi-annual International Interdisciplinary Printmaking Conference. Her paper for the 2012 AAH (Association of Art Historians) Conference has been accepted for publication by the panel organisers.
In particular Ruth has investigated and theorised the ‘a posteriori’ quality of arts-based research by means of the concept of ‘post-production’ in relation to both writing and art practice. The term conceptualises the micro-analysis of the reflection in and on action in the studio, as well as in the art gallery. It thereby examines an aspect of art practice that has been overlooked but is increasingly gaining attention, namely the installation or curation of work by the artist.
Overall, Ruth’s academic writing and art criticism has considered a range of concepts and ideas affiliated with contemporary cultural and aesthetic practices, especially in relation to prints/printmaking, such as:
Ruth’s latest research asks how expanded, site-specific print works open out conventional notions of prints and printmaking towards a multi- or intermedial practice. See Ruth’s catalogue essay for Edinburgh Printmakers’ National Lottery/Creative Scotland-funded Reflective Histories project at the historic house of Traquair in the Scottish Borders. Another project included a study of the sonorous quality of visual art and the material aesthetic of paper (see the catalogue essay for renowned paper-artist Jacki Parry’s exhibition at Glasgow Print Studio, funded by the Hope Scott Trust and Glasgow Visual Arts). Further recent writing has investigated the interrelationship between contemporary drawing and print; as well as print as translation and copy.
Future artistic research is intended to explore scientific phenomena such as autopoetic systems (Maturana/Varela) in combination with decorative models such as wallpaper. It is envisaged that the aesthetic aspect of the work will be developed through various media alongside traditional print techniques.
Through various writing projects Ruth will continue to develop her contributions to a contemporary discourse of prints/ printmaking within the context of wider debates in art.
As a (part-time) lecturer at both the old and the new ECA Ruth has taught and co-taught a wide range of subjects and courses, including art history and media studies, at undergraduate and postgraduate level for students from across the disciplines of art, design and visual communication. Specialist UG courses designed and taught by her include the history and theory of photography; postmodern, postcolonial and identity theories and, more recently, visual narratives across art, design and media.
In addition to UG Visual Culture, Ruth currently teaches on the ‘Practices & Methods’ and ‘Curatorial Theory’ courses that form part of the MFA Contemporary Art in the Art School.
This article was published on Oct 21, 2011