Collage as a medium has gained momentum in recent years, from the various major retrospectives of its key pioneers – Hannah Hoch, Matisse, Kurt Schwitters – to the emergence of exciting new practitioners like Kalen Hollomon, Joel Strong and Joe Webb who perfectly exploit its potential to be witty, fun and/or satirical in completely individual ways. And now, thanks to a new show from arts initiative Something in the Attic, we have a whole new array of innovative creatives to add to our favourite collage artist list.
Titled Brooklyn vs. London, the exhibition examines themes of perception and identity through the work of 14 artists – seven based in Brooklyn and seven based in London. While each of their work varies dramatically, the collagists are brought together by their shared love of creating something new and different from something that already exists. "I enjoy the way it allows me to explore the past – there's no better way to understand something than to deconstruct it" says Michael DeSutter, whose clean-cut, delightfully composed pieces echo swirling, Baroque compositions.
Other unusual takes on the medium include Claire Pestaille’s series Femme Maison, which merges vintage imagery of architectural structures and female forms in order to explore the absurdity of perception in the present day; and Anthony Gerace’s The Ruined Map that combines historic material with his recent self-processed photographs to mesmeric, identity-warping effect. "I love that collage is an active refutation of a dead history, and every action taken in the medium is violently symbolic and hugely charged, " Gerace expands. "But maybe that's pretentious. I really just like the way old paper makes me feel."
Here, in celebration of the show and collage in general, we showcase the work of six of our favourite artists involved in Brooklyn vs. London, alongside a list of their recommendations of where to spend time in their respective cities.
Best Spots in Brooklyn
Greenwood Cemetery – "The best place to sit in the sun and enjoy nature where it’s peaceful and there isn’t another person in sight" (Michael DeSutter)
Pine Box Rock Shop – "They allow dogs inside, have the best Bloody Mary’s you’ll ever taste and serve piping hot vegan empanadas all day long." (Jay Riggio)
Sincerely Tommy – "A lifestyle concept destination store with an awesome built in cafe." (Sajjad)
Yesterday’s News – "It’s tough to find affordable vintage materials in NYC – everything is presented as a museum piece – but here they have great vintage magazines that most likely came from estate sales in the immediate neighborhood." (Michael DeSutter)
Best Spots in London
Hampstead Heath – One of the highest points in London, running from Hampstead to Highgate, its verdant fields are perfect for picnics and its ponds for outdoor swimming. (Claire Pestaille)
Ridley Road Market – "After all the stalls have closed, it becomes a very strange, very dead part of the city that gets deader as the night goes on, and the storefronts and homemade kiosks all have a really spooky feel to them." (Anthony Gerace)
Berwick Street in Soho – "This street caters for all my needs; independent record shops, good vintage book shops, art supply stores, traditional pubs and one of London’s oldest markets." (Gareth Halliday)
Brooklyn vs. London is at Carousel, Blandford Street until June 27