What might ‘object abuse’ of a collage look like?

Claire Manning, 'Edna May n.05', 2013
Claire Manning, ‘Edna May n.05’, 2013

It finally feels like some sort of normalcy and a desire to make work is returning after the exhausting madness of completing my MA. The first project is both fun and useful in expanding my making – an opportunity from Spinach, a central London space, to take part in an open exhibition. The brief is to respond to the question: ‘What does Object Abuse look like?’ As Spinach say, ‘the possibility for speculation really is limitless. Who is to say the object in question is passive and not active? What really qualifies as abuse […], is it quantifiable and can we envisage its subtler variations? For that matter, what is an object; or rather can we say what isn’t an object…with any real certainty? Isn’t everything an object?’

I view all art works as objects but, perhaps contradictorily, I do make a distinction between pictures and objects in relation to their dimensionality. The collages I make could be considered pictures – they can sit, hung neatly on the wall – but I usually strive to exploit their 3-dimensional capabilities – to maximise the physical presence of their object-like state. Whether an object is passive or active depends on the associations created in the mind of maker and viewer – mine masquerade as passive but have active, assertive intentions.

Collages already embody an inherent act of abuse – one of appropriation, selection / discarding, cropping, interruption, fracturing, juxtaposition, tearing, and destruction in the name of construction. Given this, can I abuse them any more than I do? I choose to take this challenge literally so I pick an action (in this case, to tear), and enact it to extreme. In this I’m influenced by the torn, layered edges remaining after layer upon layer of posters have been pasted into position and then removed to reveal eroded, ruined surfaces of debris such as seen in the shot included of an advertising space on the Kennington underground.

After some intensive construction, destruction and abuse, it results in the collage shown here. In its true manifestation, its layers are 3-D rather than flat, attached loosely at the side. They will curl gently over time, affected by the circumstances they find themselves in and natural properties of the paper itself. Unstable; shifting, changing.

Links: http://www.spinach.co.uk/artists/

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