Palimpsest vs Collage

How many years ago now was it that the aesthetic theoretician Richard Woodfield referred to me as a ‘palimpsest’ artist? Close to 20. At the time, I liked the analysis; it gave me something new to think about, since the idea of my work being constructed of layer upon semi-transparent layer rang true.

Nowadays, I’d have to say my work is more like collage, figuratively as well as literally. This is because even though my work involves putting together pre-existing elements that, like the layers of sediment in a geological core sample, were created at different times, I’m manipulating these elements at the same time. 

How much time depends upon the piece. Of the pieces posted here, the fasted came together in an afternoon’s work – if you don’t count the time it originally took to create the pieces that were already on hand –  which goes back to sometime around 2004, when I went to China and came back with ‘fish paper’ and a horsehair brush – or the time between the time the first piece was produced and the time it ended up in a collage.

Last month, I saw the fruits of some of my long-term labour (and the labour of numerous others), with the first edition of the Foça International Archaeological and Cultural Heritage Film Days – a project which, I realised while in the midst of it, is a type of collage: Putting together pre-existing elements to create some kind of a coherent whole that is more than – or, rather, different from – the sum of its parts.

In contrast to the collages you’re viewing here, Foça Film Days was put together by ‘mining’ the creative products of a lot of other people, mostly filmmakers. The collages I’ve photographed (alas, badly) and posted here were put together by ‘mining’ the paper detritus of my own past, things I saved for one reason or another. (If one day or another you see a strange little griffon head peeking out of a collage, it will be because I saved a copy of the Foça Film Days program and put it to good use.)

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