Sunday, August 23, 2020

Radical Reimaginings


Ascending in All Directions 1 (Starfish) and 2 (Octopus), Vintage paper, gouache, ink on birch panel, 12"x12"x.8", 2020

Radical Reimaginings is a virtual exhibition curated by 516 ARTS and the Kolaj Institute. On view from August 22 through December 31, 2020.


 My exhibition statement: 

I want to reimagine the potential of the imaginary. To imagine is the first step toward realization—what once seemed impossible can begin to take form in the mind’s eye (or ear as the case may be). Collage can function as a lens through which the marvelous underpinnings of the commonplace are revealed. It can serve as a map or guide, a catalyst, prescription or elixir for maker and viewer alike.

As I was creating these pieces I was literally thinking of them as lenses through which one could glimpse a more egalitarian, cooperative, compassionate world. In reading the exhibition catalog I noticed similar sentiments reiterated by many of the artists included in the exhibition.


In earlier times and under different horrific circumstances artists, writers, musicians, and others have used art and music as part of efforts to endure absurd conditions. During and after World War 1, Dadaists and Surrealists used collage, automatic writing, nonsense poetry, and collaborative games such as Exquisite Corpse in response to the illogic of war, colonization, and industrialization. 


In music, the frameworks for improvisation that came to be known as blues and jazz emerged in response to slavery, oppression, discrimination, and exploitation.


These art forms went much further than serving as documents of shared suffering…they created community, provided a forum for communication, encouraged collective creativity…they offered a sense of shared purpose and meaning…in the midst of despair, these practices generated the very conditions required to transform the circumstances at hand. 


“The possible” is a carefully calculated convention. But when the prevailing possible so clearly serves the few at the expense of the many, it is up to those undaunted by perceived limitations to intervene in its radical reimagining. 


To cultivate and maintain the ability to envision parallel or alternate possible presents is a subversive act. The scale of current environmental, political, and social challenges would indicate that the possible is no longer insufficient, if it ever was…the impossible is the only viable path forward.


Equipped with whatever materials one may find at hand, an openness to chance, and a spirit of experimentation, collage is one route to its realization.