1 September - 1 October 2022

Work from a summer residency at the Chateau d'Orquevaux, France, and other pieces. 


"Not one scrap of an idea of ours does not originate in myth, isn't transformed, mutilated, denatured mythology. The most fundamental function of the spirit is inventing fables, creating tales... The building materials that the search for human knowledge uses were used once before; they come from forgotten, fragmented tales or 'histories.'"

Bruno Schulz

Being mortal is perhaps the most profound commonality we share as human beings. We venture through life marking it with milestones and gravestones, striding across one threshold after another without ever truly arriving, always on our way, en route, passing through. Life is an unfolding experience spun back to ourselves in the yarns we tell each other, the stories we recount, the tales we weave into both our personal and collective histories. Along the way we pick up found materials and fashion them into worlds, temporary and fragile, coming into visibility and demanding our constant vigilance to keep them viable or they slip back into the common source and await to be refashioned by others as they pass through. Fragments make worlds and worlds tell stories.

My own story took me to France this summer for a month-long artists’ residency at the remarkable Chateau d’Orquevaux in the countryside of the Haute Marne about 3 hours east of Paris. I went there as a collage artist with an open mind and a stash of paper cut down to 19x13 inches, the largest I could fit in my suitcase. To say that the setting was idyllic is an understatement, it was actually like paradise on earth. In dedicated studio spaces within the grand eloquence of a late nineteenth-century chateau, sustained by an abundance of French cuisine, wine and summer sunshine, we could focus all our creative energy on exploring our art form and benefitting from the supportive engagement of fellow residents, be they visual artists, musicians, dancers, or writers. Most of the work you see in this exhibition emerged at the Chateau in small batches in response to changing focuses of attention as the days passed. A contemplation of horizons, of thresholds, and of human relationships preoccupied my extemporary collage making enterprise. In several instances the unique opportunity to collaborate with co-residents challenged my own predilections, opening new and unanticipated lines of creative inquiry, some of which is evident on the walls of the gallery, in particular my collaboration with a dancer.

It is important to note that the act of collage making is also a collaboration between an artist’s embodied imagination, their active body, the fragments of paper that they have gathered around them, and the enfolding continuity of a lifeworld. A collage aims to be a representation of the context of life borne of participatory involvement and as such, must emerge without pre-planning in the spontaneity of imitative play. They are not illustrations of pre-determined ideas or concepts, where ‘illustration’ literally means to shine light onto something already formed elsewhere by some other process. Nor is collage making a projection of idealized form onto unsuspecting matter, but rather, as the anthropologist Tim Ingold argues when speaking about the practice of human making in general, it is “one of gathering, more analogous, perhaps, to sewing or weaving than to shooting arrows at a target. As they make things, practitioners bind their own pathways or lines of becoming into the texture of the world”

A collage is the site and outcome of playful, mimetic incarnation, where it is the artist’s developing relationship with the found fragments and the worlds they invoke, that is presented, the result of which cannot be pre-ordained. If a collage can carry any meaning at all it is ‘bodied-forth’ in the only way available to the work itself, and there it awaits interpretation by the viewer. A collage demands effort on the part of viewers to be willing to participate themselves, engage their imagination, seek out the situational meaning of the combination of fragments in the context of the world to which each fragment directly or indirectly refers. In this way, collage challenges vision to look beyond itself, beyond visual perspective and objective thinking, deep into the communicative space of the collage where the fragments metaphorically engage with one another and thus go beyond themselves to reference not only the multiple contexts from which they are sourced (fragments withdrawing from a whole), but also a world of nascent and unexpected liaisons (fragments opening onto a whole).