8.31.2009

Exquisite corpse

A few weeks ago, in the middle of a heat wave, I had the distinct luxury of taking an entire week to work on collage with other artists who were interested in doing the same. As tends to happen, the results were nothing like what I expected; I thought I'd breeze in, learn a few techniques, finish an existing project or two, maybe finish a new one and in the end feel refreshed, renewed and leave everything in a neat and tidy, collaged pile.

Instead, I was introduced to insanely talented contemporary collage artists (famous, infamous and otherwise) who are making it. Really making it.

I was surprised by the comradery, generosity and support shown to me by my fellow classmates and instructor. I continued with current ideas that I think might take years to fully develop and explore. I recognized that yes, this is fun, but it's also work.

I was wowed by our collective talent and power to express. We completed a round of exquisite corpse collages. I played this as a child, all the time and once, as an adult at a dinner party. Invented by the surrealists, one makes a portion of a figure with the rest of the paper folded (hidden from view, save for the portion one is currently working on), then trades with the next person; the group keeps going like this until all corpses are complete.

When we hung all the corpses on the wall, I was overwhelmed with their simple beauty and amazed by how they seemed to be composed by the same person. This exercise demonstrates to me, proof of collective consciousness and the importance of play in artistic expression.

I've reproduced them all here as a photo collage, but please don't use this image for anything else because it really isn't mine. (Anyway, it's such low resolution that you couldn't do much with it if you tried.) The actual size of each piece is about two by four feet, so try to imagine their beauty, grotesque power and loveliness. Perhaps then you can understand why I got teary when I saw them all hanging together.

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