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.)

Art+Fortunes=Art Fortunes

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A while back I wrote my list of 10 ideas. Of course, as soon as I posted it, I realized that I had left one out. And it was a really important one, too. It involved the next step in an ongoing project of recycling paper by using it in collages and then using the collages to tell fortunes. It even had a name: Art Fortunes.

‘Reading the collages’ had become a really nice way of interacting with people over art. Imagine waiting on line to get into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and when you finally got up to the window to make your contribution, you were told you had to go around ‘two by two’, and then they paired you up with a total stranger and said to you, “Okay, now go look at the art – and talk about it.” That’s sort of what Art Fortunes is like.

Art Fortunes on Indiegogo

I loved Art Fortunes so much I decided that the next step was to ‘spread the love’. So I put together an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to reproduce the collages as prints and get them out there to people who wanted them (which means, partly “giving” them away as “perks” to “supporters” of “the Art Fortunes Indiegogo Campaign”). I’m even making a handy dandy little ‘User’s Guide’ to explain a bit about the cards and how to ue them to tell fortunes.

Believe me, it’s not at all complicated like Tarot Cards or anything else where you’d have to have some special fortune-telling skills or anything – although I find dressing up in a bit of ‘gypsy chic’ does help the mood along…

hittites

The ‘User’s Guide’ is pretty basic, too. For example: “This card (above) combines a sketch of a Hittite idol with a picture of a detail from a mixed-media painting that sort of looks like a spine, or maybe a bug. Note the olive tree fragments and ‘feathers’. A celebration of flora and fauna?”

Also, I put together a little video so you could see ‘a reading in progress’. Obviously, every one is different, because every person is different; it’s really fascinating (to me) to see how people get into looking at the pictures and making up stories to go along with them. In fact, as luck would have it, on an ‘involvement scale’ of 1 to 10, (with 1 being ‘being polite, but trying to get this over with as quickly as possible’ and 10 being ‘hey, I know you’ve got 3 more people sitting waiting to have their Art Fortunes told, but heck, I wanna keep looking at the pictures, and I can tell way better stories than you, anyway, and I think that those feathers symbolize pens, so that means that I am going to get a letter from someone very soon, and, also, you see that that one person has two heads? well that means…”), the person in the video with me was kind of a ‘1’.

If you want to find out more (and I hope you do), you can click on the link below, and it will take you down the rabbit hole and into the land of

Art Fortunes on Indiegogo

Have Fun!!!

 

 

 

Heads UP!

Blog reader, be(a)ware:

Next week (god willing and the creek don’t rise) I’ll be launching an Indiegogo campaign to fund printing of a limited edition of ‘Art Fortunes’.

For those of you who missed them, here (and here) are links to some posts explaining the ‘project’ (‘work’), which involves making collages and sharing interpretations of them through ‘readings’ – a series of one-on-one relationships that involve an art maker (me), art objects (the collages), and an audience (a person seeking to have their fortune told). In other words, “Art Fortunes” looks like fortunetelling, but it’s also art!

While I’m continuing periodic ‘readings’, I’m also expanding the project/work to include a limited edition of 60 “decks” of 52 “Art Fortunes” cards printed from the original collages. I’ll post the link to the Indiegogo campaign when I have it so you can check it out and share it with others. In the meantime, if you’ve got any questions, just drop me a line…

Art Fortunes cards in box

Pick a card.

I should be doing my morning yoga, but I left my telephone/timer downstairs, so I decided I would write to you instead. (I am trying to get into a routine of yoga every morning or every other morning; I’ve gotten from 5 minutes up to 15 minutes, and I NEED to do some this morning because yesterday morning was already the “other” morning.)

Well. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I can post you three pictures – you can pretend they are the three cards that you picked when I read your Art Fortune. Or, if you don’t like these three, and you’re close enough and free enough to get to Foça this Wednesday or Friday afternoon, you can pick your own cards. It only takes about 5 minutes, it’s absolutely free (unless you want to buy me a beer or a coffee or support some other “worthy cause”), and best of all, we get to have a conversation.

Now, let’s pretend:

4kazanThis card is “The Four Cauldrons”. It looks like you’re running from here to there, trying to carry something forward while negotiating with others who are also trying to do the same. But as you can see, there’s not much room to negotiate in.

 

yolculukThis card is “Travel”. In fact, part of you would rather just take off with your hubby to some Mediterranean shore (Oh, wait: You live on one!)

 

dengeWhat the future appears to hold is this card, “Balance”.
(Unfortunately, it was really me who picked the cards, and it is very hard to interpret your own fortune. Maybe you can help me out…)

Visuals

I’d like to announce, “I hate to interrupt the flow of the Georgia Road Trip story” – but that would be untrue. Fact is, the words weren’t flowing, so I decided to go back to the drawing board – literally.

So, “below please find” a few new collages that will be making their way into my second “deck of fortunetelling cards”…

film-gibiFilm Gibi

 

choices“Choices”

 

wigwam“Wig-Wam”

 

(And now for the ones that don’t have cows…)

women“Women”

 

pop-up“Pop-up”

 

travel“Travel”

 

walk-in-the-woods“Walk-in-the-woods”

 

blindfolded“Blindfolded”

 

I hope you enjoyed this little visual interlude. Now, if you’ll just take your seats, we’ll be back on the road again shortly.

Prognostication

21st-century Ecosystem

If you’ve read some of my earlier blog posts, then you may know that I decided to take 52 of these postcard-size collages and turn them into a deck of fortunetelling cards. It seemed the logical thing to do, since the number of people really interested in looking at artwork seemed infinitessimely smaller than the number of people interested in my providing them with some kind of insight into their worlds. The Art Fortunetelling was my way of saying “ok”.

As I may have mentioned earlier, it was way easier for me to find some meaning in the cards than to try and put some meaning in them intentionally. Again, seems logical, if we get talking about art as a subconscious rather than a conscious carrier of meaning. In fact, it seemed to make so much sense that I decided it was time to make a second deck.

And considering that we are in a sort of transition stage – Will we be moving to Foça in September? Or will I just be going up to teach a couple of classes, and coming back down to Bodrum until we can get our act together and finally head (a bit) north? Will I even have students sign up for the classes? Will I get involved in something else even more new and interesting? How will our garden grow?

As soon as I finish up here I will probably go ‘throw the I Ching’ (or as the web site says, ‘toss coin virtually’), but in the meantime, I could go for some interpretation.

Let us say (for sake of argument, and so I can show off my newest collages) that I picked (without looking) the card “Lust”as my first card, my present subconscious, Lust

and then I chose (this time looking at all my choices of cards) the card “Mom” Mom

to go with it.

I might interpret that as consciously trying to step back and look at a situation with multiple aspects/possibilities in a cooly detached way, seeing the beauty of all the possibilities, while beneath this was a seething mess of desire and fear of the unknown.

How lucky I might (or might not) feel when this turned up as my card of the future, Burning Down the House

“Burning Down the House” –

As I like to remind people who turn up “The Death Card”,

in the metaphorical world of fortunetelling, this is not necessarily a bad thing…

 

Back to the Drawing(CUTTING) Board

Prenses

Yes, we are back to the cutting board!

The reason for that is simple: my precious French oil pastels are feeling just as overwhelmed from the heat as I am. They’re not quite butter, but they’re not quite up to form, either. So, rather than put the in the fridge and see what happens, I decided to just get cutting!

Somehow, whatever mode the heat has directed my brain towards seems to be more conducive to the process of collaging together pre-existing images than whatever the process it is I go through with the ‘water drawings’.

These are back to the ‘postcard’ size – 10x15cm. They’re the same size that make up the ‘fortunetelling deck’ – i.e. the 52 collages that I started using to tell fortunes with.

I’m thinking that maybe it’s time for another deck of 52.

And, I’m also thinking, maybe I oughta print these ought BIG!
(That’d be a change…)

So, here goes with the newest round of collages – titled, too!
(You can imagine them the size of a postcard, or you can imagine them BIG! If you go for ‘BIG’, let me know how it works for you…)

Mother Hubbard“Mother Hubbard”
Spirits“Spirits”

Toredor“Toreador”

Weird Landscape“Weird Landscape”

(Oh, and the one up on the very top is “Prenses”…)

Valentine’s Day Open Studio

little wc books 3 f

So, a friend of mine mentioned an artist she read about who was trying to survive on donations she was soliciting as a means of support for her art-making. I’m guessing that if she’s doing this through a crowdfunding web site, she’s “giving away” pieces of artwork as “gifts” to the folks making these donations. I suppose that was what I was doing when I put the Ottoman Princess fundraising campaing on Indiegogo. It allowed me basically to pay the costs of making an installation piece that is not “saleable” by getting support from people who were ostensibly “buying in” to the concept/aim of the Princess Piece.

For Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d just go the route of crash commercialism – in the spirit of the holiday – and open up my studio for people who might want to browse… and shop.
And maybe get a glass of pink wine as well. (In Marxian terms, I suppose a glass of pink wine and a little notebook could be considered equal in exchange value.

little wc books 1 f

Or is it use value? I never was a very good Marxist.

On the other hand, I’m pretty good at telling fortunes, which I found to be a very good way to get people to look carefully at art.

dur

And so I’ll be doing that at the Open Studio this Saturday as well. No charge.

I suppose I could take a line from one of those fake gypsys in their below-the-sidewalk lairs and announce, “I see a beautiful work of art entering your house to make you very happy…”

And then invite someone to look at this marvelous wardrobe, handpainted with an image from one of our favorite beach retreats, and announce that I do commissioned furniture pieces as well…

DEBORAH_DOLAP_2

But mainly, the Valentine’s Day Open Studio is just a way to catch up with old friends

Deborah 2a

and get better acquainted with some new ones

Water Pastel 090216

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(For directions to the studio, just leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you.)

Predictions, Predictions

Since I came back from New York in October, I’ve maintained the policy of turning on the news as infrequently as possible. Regardless, it is getting to be that time of year when the tv news shows are full of prognosticators called in to reveal what we should all be expecting for the coming year.

Last year, I decided to get into the prediction game myself, with ‘Art Fortunes’. This involved taking 52 collages I had made that were all the same size (each about as big as a postcard) and ‘transforming’ them into a fortunetelling deck.

It was pretty easy to do, because it involved – ta-daaa- absolutely nothing! Nothing, that is, except telling people I could tell their fortune by looking at the cards. As I explained, ‘Art Fortunetelling is based on two premises.

  1. All the world is energy, all life is interconnected, and time is not necessarily linear.
  2. Artworks speak to us because they contain layers of meaning that we can uncover by truly looking.

Just telling (reminding) people that art has meaning was nice for me – and because I was telling people’s own individual fortunes they tended to look a whole lot harder for the meaning in the cards they were picking.

Which was nice.

As an artist, it’s always nice to have people looking at your work.

While some people were happy just to sit back and let me tell them what I saw in the cards, others ran out ahead of me to interpret their own cards. Which made my life as a mystic a lot easier.

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Below are 2 new cards I made last week. These are the first collaged ‘cards’ I made after having decided to use the collages in fortunetelling, and I found out something very interesting while I was making them.

Nature out of Balance

Forbidden Fruit

What I found out was that… as I was making them, I caught myself consciously trying to interpret them, and everytime I caught myself, I had to stop working. Before, I had had thoughts like, ‘oh, that’s interesting’ and ‘that makes sort of sense there’, but I had never had thoughts like ‘oh, if this is here, then that could mean this.’

Of course, all those possible meanings were there in the previous collages – and when I looked at them after they were finished, I could draw that meaning out – but once I started trying to fix the meaning at the very moment I was working, everything collapsed. My conclusion is:

  1. There are different ways of thinking and different ways of knowing things.
  2. Not all the ways of thinking and knowing work for every task.

I’m fairly sure there’s a philosopher or two out there who has put this much more eloquently and much more clearly. This was all I could manage on my own.

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To demonstrate the process of how Art Fortunes work, I tried to read my own fortune.

Deck of Fal

After holding onto the deck of cards until I felt as if I had transferred enough of my own energy to them, I spread out the cards face down and picked one without looking. I turned it over, and it turned out to be this one:

Turtle Dreams.jpg I called it Turtle Dreams.

Then, I turned the cards over so I could see all the images, and I looked through them, trying to pick the one card that I felt ‘looked right’ with Turtle Dreams. I looked at all of them and narrowed them down to four possibilities, then out of those four, I picked this one:

Pointy Objects.jpgPointy Objects.

Then, I turned the cards over once again so I couldn’t see the images, and I picked out a third card ‘just by feel’, and without turning it over, I placed it face-down on my black ‘reading cloth’, like this:

Fal reading

Then I started the reading.

The card I picked by looking, Pointy Objects,  is the ‘present consciousness’ card. It’s how you see your current situation – or how you would like to see your current situation. It represents your awareness of what’s going on in your life. In this case, there appears to be a lot of chaos, a lot of violence, and an attempt to flee. Interestingly, Pointy Objects has often been selected by people I’ve done readings for as their ‘present consicousness’ card. I think it is a sign that there is a lot of shit going on in the world. I think you would probably agree.

Turtle Dreams, which is the card I picked without looking, represents the subconscious. It’s what’s going on even if you’re not paying attention. Compared to Pointy Objects, Turtle Dreams still represents an atmosphere fraught with danger, but there is a much greater sense of caution – moving slowly to avoid the danger, rather than running quickly away from it. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell if the turtle is crawling away from the danger zone, or slowly but surely heading right into it. The only way to find out is to look into the future- in this case, the final card, which, when turned over, revealed this:

Floating on PedestalsFloating on Pedestals

Normally, I would have a lot to say about what this card means; in other words, what one can expect to look forward to (or not) in the future. However, when I turned this card over, I found I was without any words, without any interpretive powers at all.

I think what I found out was that you just can’t predict your own future.

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Regardless, I wish everyone the best for 2016 – may it be better than 2015 – and may I remain,

Yours truly,

Deborah Semel Demirtaş