Collage Dreamings and Collage Hauntings: Cutting Edge
Conference – Thomas Crow, David Alan Mellor, Elizabeth Price
- 5 October 2021
- 12:00 – 2:00 pm
- An event as part of the multi-part conference programme 'Cutting Edge: Collage in Britain, 1945 to Now'
12.00–12.15 Welcome by Sarah Victoria Turner (Deputy Director, Paul Mellon Centre), Elena Crippa (Curator, Modern and Contemporary British Art, Tate) and Rosie Ram (Visiting Lecturer, Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art)
12.15–12.45 Keynote by David Alan Mellor (Emeritus Professor, University of Sussex) and Thomas Crow (Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art, New York University), ‘Ev’ry Which Way: South Kensington Phantasmagorias and Californian Dreamings’
12.45–13.00 Discussion and questions, chaired by Elena Crippa
13.10–13.45 Artist’s film presentation, Elizabeth Price chaired by Anna Reid (Research Fellow, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)
13.45–14.00 Discussion and questions
Thomas Crow and David Alan Mellor, 'Ev’ry Which Way: South Kensington Phantasmagorias and Californian Dreamings'
In the 1950s and 1960s, English and American artists, writers and performers used a disruptive range of collage and assemblage strategies as a means of starting over in the face of unwelcome or impoverished precedents.Often emerging from Beat bohemias in California and the ‘layabout life’ of art colleges in Britain, they became aligned with an emerging counter-culture and, in the case of Peter Blake , more complexified forms of pop music.
Practitioners like Californians Bruce Conner and Wallace Berman had a certain international visibility through informal networks and advocates – for example the actor Dennis Hopper – and ‘deviant’ galleries such as Robert Fraser’s, in London, who represented them. Beyond the stigma of self-willed eccentricity, there were significant painter/poets such as Adrian Henri or ‘junk’ sculptors like George Herms or Bruce Lacey. Art and letters liaisons in the area of the ‘cut-up’ were prominent in the association of Francis Bacon and William Burroughs.
While occult and noir literary configurations were operative in California, formative science-fiction experimentations equally informed the collages of Eduardo Paolozzi and J.G. Ballard. This conversation will range across these kinds of subjects and materials, and explore the parallels and convergences between English and American collage in the period.
Elizabeth Price and Anna Reid in conversation
Elizabeth Price’s moving image installations are intricate digital bricolage where voice, event, edifice and artefact are summoned, gathered and assembled. Her Turner Prize-winning The Woolworths Choir of 1979 (2012) is, for example, an immersive installation that narrates a tragic event – a devastating fire which killed ten people at the Manchester Woolworths department store – via an uneven multitude of testimonies. Her 2016 installation A Restoration is a fiction narrated by a ‘chorus’ of museum administrators, working to reconstruct the abstruse form of the Knossos Labyrinth as a virtual chamber where collection data, images and texts flow and collide.
This conversation will explore the technique and strategy of collage that is active in Price’s works. It will address the haptic research processes of which her ‘seamless’ digital productions consist. The dissensual and polyphonic character of Price’s works will be considered in its resonance with the Gothic and the artist’s processes of assembly and construction in their improbable, revelatory form.
About the speakers
Thomas Crow’s teaching and research at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where he is Rosalie Solow Professor, reach from the later seventeenth century in Europe to the contemporary in both Europe and America. His first book, Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris, was quickly recognized as providing a fresh model for understanding the art and larger culture of its period. At the same moment, his much-reprinted essay, ‘Modernism and Mass Culture in the Visual Arts’, identified interdependency rather than antagonism between modern fine art and popular visual expression. All of these concerns—the broad social history of artistic form and reassessing cultural hierarchies alongside the individual formations of artists—came together in his recent, warmly received Long March of Pop: Art, Music, and Design 1930-1995.
His doctoral degree is from UCLA, and he holds honorary doctorates from Pomona College and the Courtauld Institute. Before coming to the Institute of Fine Arts, his appointments included Chairs at the University of Sussex and at Yale University, as well as the Directorship of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. He has also been for twenty years an active contributing editor at Artforum. In 2015, he delivered the Andrew Mellon Lectures, on art around the fall of Napoleon, at the National Gallery in Washington DC.
David Alan Mellor has contributed to retrievals of histories of twentieth century photography, film and painting within their cultural contexts. Curating exhibitions and critical writing have been his practice, working for the Tate Gallery, the Arts Council of England , the National Portrait Gallery, the International Center for Photography and the Barbican Art Gallery.
His essays include studies of David Hockney, Paul Nash, Cecil Beaton, David Bailey, Pauline Boty, Robyn Denny, Richard Smith, (forthcoming), Frank Auerbach (also forthcoming) and George Shaw. Additionally, he has organised surveys such as The Sixties Art Scene in London (1993), and No Such Thing as Society: Photography in Britain, 1967–1987 (2008).
He established film studies at the University of Sussex, while developing the history of photography as a component within the art history undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Sussex.
He has been primarily a collaborator, dealing with intersections of historical analysis and narratives of display, more recently co-curating The Bruce Lacey Experience with Jeremy Deller in 2012 at Camden Arts Centre. With the Archive of Modern Conflict he curated the extensive installation The Protection of the Public in Peacetime for the Tate Modern exhibition Time, Conflict and Photography (2014).
Elizabeth Price was born in Bradford, Yorkshire in 1966. She grew up in Luton, Bedfordshire and attended Putteridge Comprehensive Secondary School. She studied at the Royal College of Art, London and the University of Leeds. She makes short videos which explore the social and political histories of artefacts, architectures and documents. The subject matter may sometimes be historic artworks of great cultural significance, but it is more frequently marginal or derogated things, and often pop-cultural or mass produced objects. The video narrations draw upon and satirise the administrative vernaculars of relevant public and academic institutions as well as advertising copy and other texts of private and commercial organisations.
Alongside her work as an artist she works as an academic. In recent years she has been employed at Goldsmiths, the Royal College of Art and the Ruskin School of Art. She is presently Professor of Film and Photography at Kingston University. She teaches across disciplines and levels but recently has focussed upon working with artists developing formally innovative PhD projects.
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