13th Istanbul Biennial, 2013


At the 13th Istanbul Biennial, Soi presents the work Kumartuli Printer, Notes on Labour, Part 1. This is a ongoing work. The slide-show was created in 2010 and the prints were created in 2013.

Together with a slide-show, Soi presents a series of prints and graphic compositions that he developed over the course of his long-term engagement with the printer. For the prints they used images from the printer’s collection of blocks and cheap, coloured sheets of paper used to print receipts. These compositions test the limits of the technical possibilities available within this Spartan workshop and explore the parameters of visual language both in terms of medium specificity, as well as in the broader context of culture.

Included within this installation are two precisely rendered pencil drawings Soi made of the printers equipment.

The slide-installation follows the movements of a printer who works in Kumartuli, an old quarter in the city of Kolkata in West Bengal, India, as he operates an outdated treadle printer. It records the motions of the printer’s hands as he feeds paper into the machine and pulls out grainy prints depicting the image of the printer’s hand in labour. By reproducing the printer’s repetitive routine, the sequence of images reveals the entwined relationship between man and machine, between crafted skill, artistic choice and industrial technique.

Kumartuli Printer highlights the labour conditions within the one-man industrial workshops, a common phenomenon in third-world economies that often struggle to compete with post-industrial modes of production. The artwork recognizes both the obsolescent craft and the graphic language that are characteristic of the printer’s practice. The artist’s engagement with the printer, and the ensuing work, is ongoing.

Text - Rieke Vos
Assitant Curator
13th Istanbul Biennial, 2013

Treadel Press prints on paper
22.5 X 18.5 cm each


Below -
Graphite on A4 paper
These were drawings I made of the printers
archive and his press. They were first traced and
then finessed and became extremely architectural.
These drawings are tools and find their place within the installation...examples of the printers work and mine rest on the same platform.


Installation View
13th Istanbul Bienniel, 2013

Kumartuli Printer, Notes on Labour, Part 1, 2012
Drawings, ink on paper and prints
15 prints 22.5 x 18 cm, 1 print 13.5 x 22.5 cm, 2 drawings 21 x 29.7 cm

Kumartuli Printer, Notes on Labour, Part 1, 2010
Slide show, approximately 3 min. loop