Pieces from the 2011 Project with Collage Fodder “made from scratch.”
Not that I wish to paint a dystopian picture for the future of collage, but we need to start thinking ahead. We should be preparing for a world without collage — collage as we know it.
Like many mixed artists, I have at least one box with what I call collage fodder. Over the years I’ve added things knowing I might use them some day. I use some of the contents and I even get rid of stuff as the direction of my work changes. I am always on the look out for new material. The problem is that there really is a finite amount of material. Like fossil fuels, collage fodder won’t be around forever.
Yes, we still have years to go. But I already see it happening. As the world goes digital, the ticket stub, the postage stamp, the postcard, the map and even the printed photograph all seem to be vanishing. I have pretty much just listed the contents of my collage fodder.
Last year, when I was working on the 2011 Project, most of the works were mixed media. I was raiding my collage fodder boxes on a daily basis. But I had instances where I did not have quite what I felt was needed. I realized the easiest solution was to start making my own material, my own collage fodder. The thought was to make art, with the idea it will be subsequently cut up and used in a collage. Considering the labor-intensive nature of what I do, adding another step seemed a natural solution.
Earlier this year, as I was creating work for my installation Imagining Val Travel, I wanted to do a piece with the colorful luggage tags airlines used to use. The ones that had airport codes in bold letters. The problem was, I only had a handful of those tags. The solution was to make 64 tags to be used in Frequent Flyer the piece shown below.
As things run out, we could scan and digitize material. But I resist that “solution.” I really feel, for collage, the piece can be as much about the final texture as the images used. Digital collages might be nice on a digital display, but for art in the real world, we have to get used to making collage fodder from scratch.