Cutting Edge: Workshops on Collage, Day 1
Conference, Workshop – Amy Tobin, Danae Filioti, Karen Di Franco, Andrew Wilson, Daniel Fountain, Tom Day
- 13 October 2021
- 2:00 – 4:30 pm
- A workshop, as part of the multi-part conference programme 'Cutting Edge: Collage in Britain, 1945 to Now'
The Cutting Edge workshops feature papers from early career researchers, who explore the art of collage from new and compelling perspectives. Those sessions are hosted as Zoom meetings, allowing attendees the opportunity to engage in more dynamic exchanges and group discussions. Numbers will be capped at a maximum of 50 participants for the workshops to allow for active participation and discussion using breakout rooms. Note, you do not need to be an academic to join the workshops, but should have a strong interest in collage and be willing to take an active part in discussing the papers.
14.00–14.15 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)
Chaired by Amy Tobin (Lecturer in the Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge)
14.15–14.25 Danae Filioti (PhD Candidate, Art History, University College London), ‘Cutting the Cosmos: Liliane Lijn and Collage, 1960/9’
14.25–14.35 Karen Di Franco (Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London), ‘Breakthrough Fictioneers: Chance and Collage in Artists’ Publishing (1972–79)’
14.35–14.55 Panel 1 discussion & questions
14.55–15.25 Breakout discussion 1
Chaired by Andrew Wilson (Independent Curator and Art Historian)
15.40–15.50 Daniel Fountain (Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture, University of Exeter), ‘Queering the Library Through Collage: The Cut-Ups of Joe Orton & Kenneth Halliwell, 1959–1962’
15.50–16.00 Tom Day (Postdoctoral Fellow / Lecturer at the Centre for American Art, Courtauld Institute of Art), ‘Jeff Keen’s Pop Cinema Collage: The Saturation of Media and the Politics of Images’ [Pre-recorded]
16.00–16.20 Panel 2 discussion & questions
16.20–16.40 Breakout discussion 2
Danae Filioti, 'Cutting the Cosmos: Liliane Lijn and Collage, 1960/9'
This paper will argue that Liliane Lijn's collage, Inner Space – Outer Space – Same Distance no. 4 (1969, 53×43 cm), executed after she had moved to London in 1966, was rooted in an earlier innovative and mechanical practice. Lijn had come to prominence as an abstract kinetic artist by this time, participating in Hayward’s survey show on the theme for instance. And so it was perhaps an odd choice for her to portray the ultra-technological frontier thematic of outer space – coinciding with the Apollo11 moon landing nonetheless – in the ‘deskilled’ modality of paper-collage. This paper will therefore consider the case for a shift in Lijn's practice towards a 'British vernacular’ by looking in detail at the relationship between her kinetic work and the collage. The consequent dialectic of motion/stillness was arguably vital to a reconceiving of space for a 'kinetic milieu’. The character of the cut and the condition of movement embedded, implicit or explicit, will be considered as key techniques. Not only does Lijn’s montage hijack the cosmic spectacle but it is remarkable for its evasion of any reference to it. The paper will discuss how this work derived from an earlier engagement in Paris. Collage-like operations, especially William Burrough’s and Brion Gysin's cut-up experiments, had been inventively applied to produce mechanised, literary ensembles: the poem machines. More recently still, histories of collage have been considered as ostensible genealogies for the protocols of an information-processing aesthetic. This proposed bracketing of Lijn’s practice therefore, spanning the 1960s, affords an opportunity to navigate her protracted traverse of the motor/analogue divide. Her technophilia, at once retrograde and futuristic, I will argue, insisted on shape over and above medium – that is, on the format superseding the ‘medium as the message’ as Marshall McLuhan’s popular dictum held. It is the logic of the lattice or mandala, so palpable in the collage pieces – as the cosmos is compressed into haptic confetti slices – that makes the work worthy of the inter-practice exploration proposed here.
Karen Di Franco, 'Breakthrough Fictioneers: Chance and Collage in Artists’ Publishing (1972–79)'
This presentation explores the compositional possibilities of collage, where decontextualising and juxtaposing incongruent text, images or actions within a conceptual aesthetic construct produces a variety of disruptive gestures or indeterminate outcomes. This particular collage aesthetics, connected to the score or instruction, collapses distinctions between writing, reading and performance. Texts by Carolee Schneemann, Constance DeJong and Lucy Lippard published between 1972–79, form the basis for the discussion, as examples of fiction writing developed from an engagement with what the scholar Liz Kotz has described as ‘the poetics of chance and collage’. Bound within the material format of the publication, each artist utilised the processes of publishing within the frameworks of writing — interconnecting design and editorial decisions as well as production and distribution. Iterated through magazine projects as excerpts, serial publications and performances, each artist eventually published the books: Parts of a Body House Book (1972), The Complete Works of Constance DeJong I-V (1976) and I See/You Mean (1979).
As collected publications they elided inclusion as either literary or artistic works, yet their commitment to an exploration of individual and collective subjectivity, formulated within the emergence of second wave feminism, would find their writing described by John Howell in a rare article from 1976, as a ‘syntax of self’. For these artists, the self was constituted within the processes of a writerly ‘becoming’ – synthesised on and off the page, with the object of text, the document or the book, translated and embodied within the processes of performance or exhibition making. With visual materials sourced from the library and archives at Tate, the presentation will describe the transitions between forms and types, to illustrate writing that moved between subjective and critical boundaries, with publications and events that connect the US and the UK.
Daniel Fountain, 'Queering the Library Through Collage: The Cut-Ups of Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell, 1959–1962'
English playwright Joe Orton (1933–1967) is well known for provocative plays such as Entertaining Mr Sloane (1964); however, a significant body of collages that he completed with his lover Kenneth Halliwell (1926–1967) between the years 1959 and 1962 are less so. During this period, Orton and Halliwell stole at least seventy-two books from their local Islington and Hampstead libraries as a protest against the ‘rubbishy books’ that lined their shelves – an opinion that was likely heightened by their initial rejection from the publishing world. They made homoerotic collages on top of the dust jackets, added new and scandalous blurbs or replaced author photos before they returned the books to their shelves, often waiting to see the shocked reactions from library patrons.
Both men were later convicted of malicious damage and theft, resulting in a harsh prison sentence of six months that was likely heightened due to their homosexuality and attack on public morality – ‘because we were queers’, Orton would explain. Orton’s biographer, John Lahr, claims that their endeavor was nothing more than a childish ‘prank’ but, I will argue, their use of collage was a form of protest and an attack on an institution of knowledge which, at the time, excluded ‘deviant’ voices and only reflected the tastes of Britain’s elite. Their process of queering the library allowed them to ‘insert’ same-sex desire into the hallowed halls of the public library, while also criticising middle- and upper-class pretentions.
Although the collaged library books are now beginning to receive long overdue attention, scholars fail to take into account the inherent queerness of their collage practice, and they do not consider the erotic potential associated with Orton and Halliwell’s material methodology. Particular attention will therefore be given to the content of some of their collages, focusing on their tactics and material choices which enact this process of ‘queering’ of the library. Using reproductions provided by the Islington Local History Centre, I will conduct a close reading of some of the collages and reproduce details (the cut, the tear, the sticky residues) that would ordinarily only be visible in an archival setting.
Tom Day, 'Jeff Keen’s Pop Cinema Collage: The Saturation of Media and the Politics of Images' (Pre-recorded)
Pop Art and the practice of collage are intimately intertwined. The birth of Pop in Britain can be linked to collage through the Independent Group’s Richard Hamilton (1922–2011) and Eduardo Paolozzi, (1924–2005), who created seminal and influential expressions of Pop within the mode. Art History discourse on the work of Hamilton and Paolozzi is plentiful, and their reputations as formative figures in the rise the Pop aesthetic are widely acknowledged.
The work of a British artist, Jeff Keen (1923–2012), who practised collage on paper, photo-chemical film and in video formats, has remained curiously absent from accounts of Pop’s relationship to collage. This paper will argue the reason for this is that Keen was known in his lifetime primarily as an underground filmmaker. Keen’s experiments in filmic collage take in a plethora of popular culture artefacts and ephemera, from comic books and detective novels to children’s toys. His moving-image works are filled with iconography lifted from genre filmmaking and B-pictures, demonstrating an engagement with pop culture that was singular in British experimental filmmaking at the time. An additional reason for Keen’s absence from the narrative of British artists’ formative role in the dissemination of a Pop aesthetic via collage is the lack of understanding of the production of cinema in relation to Pop art, and of collage filmmaking as a distinct entity in general.
This paper has three aims: firstly, it will briefly elucidate the importance of collage as a foundational medium for Pop Art; secondly, it will introduce Keen as an example of a collage filmmaker who makes Pop Art; finally, it will offer an in-depth reading of one of Keen’s densely layered films, 1966’s Flik Flack. It positions the film in relation to discourses on print media culture in the 1960s and examines the film’s simulation of the experience of living in a media-saturated environment.
Moreover, it provides a rigorous analysis and frame-by-frame breakdown of the film to uncover its political dimensions and show Keen’s subversive take on the media in relation to racial politics in the United States during the Civil Rights Movement. In doing so, this paper wishes to shine a light on an artist and filmmaker whose medium of choice, cinema, is often completely neglected in the history of Pop collage.
About the speakers
Amy Tobin is a Lecturer in the Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge and Curator, Contemporary Programmes at Kettle's Yard. She has published her research in Tate Papers, MIRAJ, Women: A Cultural Review and Feminist Review, along with books chapters in numerous edited books. She is the co-editor of London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent and Ephemeral Networks 1960–1980 (Penn State University Press, 2018) with Jo Applin and Catherine Spencer and The Art of Feminism (Chronicle and Tate, 2018) with Lucy Gosling, Helena Reckitt and Hilary Robinson. For more information on publications see: https://www.hoart.cam.ac.uk/people/dr-amy-tobin. In 2019, Tobin organised exhibitions of Louise Bourgeois, Julie Mehretu and Rose Garrard, followed by a retrospective of Linder Sterling in 2020, she is currently working on exhibitions of the work of Sutapa Biswas (autumn 2021), Howardena Pindell (summer 2022) and Li Yuan-chia and the LYC Art Centre with Hammad Nasar and Sarah Victoria Turner (winter 2022–3) all at Kettle's Yard. In 2019–20 Tobin was the Terra-PMC Fellow, in 2021–2 she has a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to work on a new project on art and feminist sisterhood.
Danae Filioti is completing her PhD thesis titled, ‘The Relief in Relief: Constructive and Concrete Women Artists in England 1949/69’, supervised by Dr Briony Fer at UCL. Her research interests range over topics of abstraction, structural film and video histories, from the mid twentieth century. to contemporary, with a special interest in issues of text and sound. Danae has acted as a TA and coordinator of the department’s Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art.
Karen Di Franco is a curator and writer working within the contexts of archives and publishing, with a focus on practices that emerge between text and performance, the page, and the body. Concerned with an inter-generational dialogue with these forms, Di Franco has curated exhibitions that challenge categorisations of archive, artwork, and ephemera, which is also the focus of her PhD (2020) Embodied Iteration: Materialising the Language of Writing and Performance in Women Artists’ Publishing, 1968–1979. She is currently Programme Curator at Chelsea Space and Associate Lecturer, MA Curating and Collections, both at Chelsea College of Arts.
Andrew Wilson was a curator at Tate from 2006 to 2021. He was previously deputy editor of Art Monthly between 1997 and 2006. Recent exhibitions include Conceptual Art in Britain 1964–1979 (Tate Britain, 2016); David Hockney (Tate Britain; Centre Pompidou Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, 2017–18) and Patrick Heron (Tate St Ives; Turner Contemporary Margate, 2018–19). He has published extensively with a focus on art and culture of the 1960s and 1970s. He is currently preparing books on Gustav Metzger, and on Alexander Trocchi and Project Sigma. He is a founder member of the London Institute of 'Pataphysics.
Daniel Fountain is an artist and Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter. In 2021 they were awarded a PhD from Loughborough University’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Feminism, Sexual Politics and Visual Culture for a practice-led thesis titled ‘All That Glitters Is Gold: Queering Waste through Campy Craft’. Daniel has published widely on themes of queer craft and has chapters forthcoming in The Routledge Companion to Gender and Sexuality (Routledge, 2021) and Queer Print Cultures (University of Toronto Press, 2022). Funded by a Fellowship from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, they are currently editing a collection titled Crafted With Pride: Queer Craft and Contemporary Activism in Britain (Intellect, 2022). More details can be found via Fountain’s website.
Tom Day is a historian of film and media art and American art after 1960. He is lecturer in American art at the Courtauld where he teaches BA and MA courses on post-war American art history and moving-image art. His interdisciplinary research is concerned with the moving image as both a subject and practice in modern and contemporary art with a particular focus on the role of cinema and television in the pop art movement; the history of TV art, and the New York downtown avant-garde of the 1970s and 1980s. He is currently writing a monograph on the influence of television in the East Village art scene of the 1980s, with a particular focus on the role television had in queer communities and in the foregrounding of a type of media critique anchored by ambivalence. Artists examined in the project include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gretchen Bender, Keith Haring, Ann Magnuson and Tom Rubnitz. His first book, entitled Pop Cinema, examines the relationship between experimental film and pop art and will be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2022. He has previously published or has work forthcoming in ASAP/Journal, Short Film Studies and in numerous edited collections.
05 Oct 2021
Collage Dreamings and Collage Hauntings: Cutting Edge
06 Oct 2021
Cuts, Copies, Clips and the Curatorial: Cutting Edge
07 Oct 2021
Collage as Method, Manuscript and Moving Image: Cutting Edge
08 Oct 2021
Collage Politics and Punk Practices: Cutting Edge
14 Oct 2021
Cutting Edge: Workshops on Collage, Day 2