Thursday evening, casting my eyes around the 'man cave' at home for a likely candidate for this week's Friday Photo, I settled on this work from the 2011 PhotoChop VIII exhibition, held at Thistle Hall, upper Cuba St, Wellington, in January 2011. The work is not signed but I'm fairly sure it was made by Markus McIntyre.
There's something nice about walking into an interesting exhibition and walking out again having purchased several pieces of artwork for the cash in your wallet. I remember doing similar at the 91 Aro St Gallery (run by some of the people responsible for PhotoChop) and MyGalaxi Gallery in the basement of 39 Dixon St, run by Arlo Edwards.
As it's clearly readable, I don't need to say much about the meaning of this photographic work, which was made simply by cutting two different photographs from magazines and gluing them down to a piece of cardboard. This method of creating artwork is so immediate that visitors to PhotoChop Vol.III were invited to construct and contribute their own works using provided materials.
(if it's not obvious in the scan, the wave on the left is one photo, the houses and beach another. It's interesting that two (or more) relatively innocuous photos can be assembled to create a meaning barely related to the originals.)
Works made by this same method, called photomontage, have been significant in the history of art, particularly in the Modernist period. As McIntyre's 2011 work contains a strong message about the big issue facing us in the 21st century - man-made climate change - historic works often tackled political issues of their time such as the rise of totalitarianism in Germany, Russia and elsewhere.
The Bauhaus artists and the Dadaists were fond of the technique, which could be made seamless (predating Modernism, Oskar Rejlander's 'Two ways of life' made in 1857 using an advanced multi-printing technique, was one of the first and finest examples of photomontage), but more often the seams were left blatantly obvious, with no pretense of hiding how the image was constructed. Pictures both found and original were cut with a blade and stuck down, simple as that. Unlike (say) oil painting, photomontage is an art making technique accessible to anyone. It naturally lent itself to bizarre juxtapositions, which appealed to Dada and Surrealist artists.
Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch, John Heartfield, El Lissitzsky, Alexander Rodchenko, and Max Ernst were among the leading exponents of photomontage.
The obvious play of the exhibition's title picks up on the highly egilatarian and low-tech nature of photomontage. These days, montages are of course most often made on a computer; but there's something nice about the scissors-and-glue, hands-on way of doing things. It is just as easy and immediate as working digitally, and it's good to use your hands for things other than touching a screen, keyboard or mouse occasionally, and to get them a bit dirty.
Anyway, this article in Wikipedia is a good starting point for research into photomontage.
Recommended reading: Photomontage - Dawn Ades, updated and revised edition, Thames & Hudson, London, 1996 (earlier editions, T & H 1976, 1986)
Text quoted from the Thistle Hall gallery archives 2011 page -
"OPENING: 3.00pm Sunday 16 January with music from Dick Whyte, The Doll, Unknown Rockstar. BBQ possible depending on the weather. BYO, some nibbles and drinks provided.
OPEN: 10.00am - 6.00pm Monday 17 - Sunday 23 January.
"A collective exhibition of collage images from print using photo chop, scissors and glue. Following the blazing paper trail left by PhotoChop (2007) and PhotoChop II (2009) the exhibition salutes the dawn of photo lithography, the 120 years old tradition of processing images for the mass print medium... give the new images a montage of new meaning.
"Artists include: Markus McIntyre, Menn-O-Matic, Will Frew, Rob Groat, Dick Whyte, Robyn Kenealy, Denise Durkin, Ruby Nekk, Sam Stephens, Don Smith, Curtis Nixon, Setefano Tevaga, Alison Jones, Di Dixon, Emma Goodal, Re-bound Books."
Photography Matters II