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Wardell Milan | The Balcony

Our Lives to Live, 2022

BORCH Editions is delighted to present The Balcony, a printmaking project in two episodes by the US-American artist Wardell Milan, at our Berlin Gallery. 

Wardell Milan’s work explores the absurdity of politics, socio-political structures, power dynamics, spectatorship, and how these forces effect one’s personal existence. The Balcony alludes to the relationship between performer and spectator in a theatre setting. Milan imagines the viewers observing the action ‘as if they are sitting above in a balcony watching the melodrama unfold before them.’ In his work, human bodies and their surroundings become stages on which questions of gender, race, sexuality and power are being negotiated.

Wardell Milan working on his etchings at BORCH Editions’ studio in Copenhagen
Trump riding his own dick, 2019

Milan first initiated The Balcony by creating a suite of eight etchings in 2019, marking his first collaboration with BORCH Editions and simultaneously his first foray into printmaking. In 2022, he returned to Copenhagen and extended the portfolio through a second suite of eight etchings subtitled The World is Made of Eggs. Though made at different times, both suites are strongly informed by the circumstances in which they came into being and the way Milan engages with the visual culture surrounding him, most notably imagery from news feeds.

Printing Wardell Milan’s ‘The World Rarely Goes Under: Civilians during a lull in fighting’, 2022

Milan spent the first days in the studio working on preliminary drawings, using images from newspapers or magazines as references for the compositions, and continued on to execute on copper plates. He transferred these drawings into line etchings while simultaneously experimenting with other intaglio printing techniques which he then incorporated into his etchings. The result are prints in a range of grey tones, with complex pattern and line work, employing time-honoured printmaking techniques to create decidedly contemporary, politically charged visual narratives.

Fire, Debris and Charred Mannequins: A Missile Strike Hits a ___ Shopping Center, 2022

Wardell Milan’s artistic practice includes large-scale figurative drawing, painting, photography and collage. He uses material from a wide variety of sources such as magazines, illustrated books, historical artworks or family snapshots. His themes oscillate between reflections on current world events and meditations on his own personal experiences, inquiring topics like gender performance, identity and body modification as well as social and political structures.

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Watch and listen to Wardell Milan talk about his prints for Louisana Channel in March 2022

When I’m working, I become extremely conscious about that imagery and how images of war or images of beauty cannot only change or effect my mood but also how it can inform someone as relates to what they want to aspire to, and how they want to retreat or engage with the world.

Wardell Milan
The most dangerous thing about being a Black woman in America. Is being a Black woman in America, 2022
__ Migrants arrive to __ in Record Numbers, on Foot Not by Boat, 2022

Learn more about Wardell Milan