PARTNERSHIP: Isa Newby Gagarin in Collaboration with Rochester Students
January 30 – April 11, 2010
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Piles of magazines, scissors and glue. Making collages out of pop culture magazines is no foreign activity to any teenager who puts pictures of rock bands on their binders or pilfers through old issues of National Geographic in high school art class. Using appropriated images in ways that are both critical and opportunistic is an important part of my artistic practice. For this project, the teenagers at Rochester Art Center and I collaborated on collecting pictures and appropriating them into an artistic book/installation.
As a way of creating an unusual theme and imagery throughout the pages of the book, we came up with a strategy that tied together each collaborators’ unique aesthetic interests. Our starting point was a big pile of magazines that ranged from old 1950’s LIFE magazines to teeny bopper rags and Oriental Trading Company catalogs. Each person cut out pictures under the parameters of their personalized visual or conceptual idea.
We then worked together to arrange the disparate pictures into compositions. One picture from each collection ended up in each picture of the pages throughout this exhibition. You can find, in each picture, for example, an element from a medicinal advertisement, cut-outs of Mary Pickford (a 1920’s silent film actress), modes of transportation, figures of all sorts, cropped images of hair, “old stuff” and “awkward hands”. The pages of this book are indexical of a game in the spirit of the Surrealist exquisite corpse, as well as ongoing group conversations about appropriated imagery and visual culture.