The collage show is up and running and we did the film screening last night. While not all of my selectons met with approval by the audience, in general the films were well received, especially (of course) the brilliant film Human Remains, a Sundance award winner by Jay Rosenblatt. That film provoked a lot of discussion, which is why I programmed it. There were other films that were liked very much as well – notable mentions include:
Harriet Macdonald’s film Another Year Gone. Originally from Tasmania, Harriet experiments with paper cutouts and a bedroom lamp to bring scraps of paper to life and create a strange other world.
Howard Cohen’s tiny and fantastically funny comedy Golden Wonders Of The Solar System Howard runs The Jelly Moustache comedy group. http://www.thejellymoustache.com
and a beautiful film called Correspondences, by Tim Baker with music by the Kleptones. http://www.mutantpop.net/radioclash
The exhibition of paper collage has interested many people all of whom have noted that it’s extremely rare to see a whole show of collage by different artists. Solo shows, yes such as the magnificent John Stezaker show at the Whitechapel recently
but group shows not so much. In fact I don’t remember ever having seen a whole group show of collage artists. Hmm. The reason we did this show was in fact to show the range of collage practices, how different artists approach collage in their own unique way.
Collage is really interesting because it’s something that anyone can do, everyone does it, artist or not. I cut my collage teeth, so to speak, making cassette tape covers for my mixtapes, in the days before cds (even after CDs, cos I never liked those). As kids we keep scrapbooks. And then, quite often we forget all about this and go on to try to make “proper art.” But then, you go back and revisit collage and it opens up a whole world of possibilities.
Artists do it for different reasons, and with different results. It can be a side-practice that gets you to know your main practice better. It can be a fun thing you do to relax but still be art-ing. It can become your main practice like it did with Stezaker. It can allow you to be critical and political. It allows you the opportunity to examine and interfere with the cultural detritus that is all around us in the shape of books, magazines, adverts and so on. For me, as a photographer and a film-maker, who misses the viceral hands-on working with film since I moved to digital, collage represents a reconnection with the manual process of art-making.
The artist in this show all take a different approach to collage. Glenn Ibbitson rips up magazines to “paint” in a classical style; Nick Wright cuts Argos catalogues to re-create the bucolic Midlands landscape that is being encroached on for endless building; Nazir Tanbouli cannibalises his own drawing books to deconstruct and reconfigure his own work, using only the books themselves. Lorena Balbinot works with newspapers and magazines to locate texts and images that, slyly reassembled, are deeply critical of the political and social status quo. Her work in this show comprises a large piece, two books and a tea set collaged with horrific images of the Iraq war. As for me, Gillian McIver, I made small works on paper and (for the first time) works on canvas. I did them in the studio just before the show and put them out hot and fresh, which is what the studio is all about. Come and taste, tell us what you think.