Slice and Dice

Curated by Susan Sensemann

Artists: Lisa Bowman, Patty Carroll, Jeff Colby, James Garrett Faulkner, Richard Hawkins, Vera Klement, Ellen Lanyon, Larry Mantello, Christian Marclay, David Moreno, Joyce Neimanas, Sandra Newbury, Ginger Roberts, Helene Smith-Romer, and Mary Lou Zelazny

Slice and Dice is an exhibition of collage curated by Susan Sensemann. This exhibition includes works by fourteen artists from Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and London. Although the perspectives of the artists are varied, the works reveal social critique or commentary that is as political as it is personal. The underlying intentions disclose feminist issues, plays of power, the effects of cultural conditioning, and the use of allegory as a vehicle for social change. Humor, satire, and parody are conjoined with dislocation and rage.

Collage and montage are innovations that have challenged traditional notions of surface, narrative, and representation. Artists, photographers, filmmakers, designers, and composers have used collage and montage techniques to strategically juxtapose fragments from disparate sources for formal, metaphorical, or ideological reasons.

The fragmentation and re-contextualization inherent in the medium of collage are particularly well suited to preoccupations of the postmodern era. Issues of cultural representation, the construction of identity, and saturation by the media require an analysis of prevailing representations of gender, ethnicity, and class. The flexibility and viability of collage allow for juxtapositions of image that deny a fixed or absolute meaning and are accessible on more than one level.

Slice and Dice refers to the well-known photomontage, Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada through the Last Weimar Beer Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany, made in 1920 by Hannah Hoch, a member of the Berlin Dada group. Hoch's collage is a complex and biting response to the political, economic, and social upheavals of the era between the world wars. Images were excised from mass-media publications in an attempt to provoke and undermine assumptions about pretenses of cultural and political hierarchies and gender and class stereotypes. Images were snipped and scores were settled.

Superimposed images embody paradox. Contradictory elements shift, collide, merge, and separate again as images seem to inhabit more than one space. Uneasy alliances subvert the context and defy the constraints of the sources of origin. Found materials and images from popular media are juxtaposed; words, images, signs, and symbols are compressed into works of art that elucidate fragmentation and distraction in our culture. As a response to the mass-consumerism of the 1950s, the British artist Richard Hamilton made a collage that is cited as the first example of Pop Art. Just what is it that makes today's homes so different so appealing?, 1956, is playful, ironic, and critical. The dual nature of collage allows for the enjoyment of cultural detritus while simultaneously critiquing mass consumerism and representing our society's accompanying fears and anxieties.

Complex linkages, multiple viewpoints, and shifts in narrative syntax demonstrate the flux in everyday life. Fragments of images and texts from a wide-range of sources merge with the substance of art as the artist makes judicious placements and decisions. Disruption, dislocation, discord, and disorientation are aspects of a process of assimilation and reconciliation. The uncertainty of the re-constructed images, their seeming imbalance, defies categorization. Yet, a balance is established in the midst of rupture. Humor and anger, the mundane and the numinous, are truths that are conflated in collage. Fragments find their way into fields of artistic certainty.