Lecture 1: Learning to become a “thinking practitioner” and looking at Collage and how the lecture programme will run.
This was our first lecture of 2nd year and the first part was spent explaining how the lecture programme will work this year and how to do our reflective learning journals (which is this blog!) this blog must include a mixture of written and visual work and i should think of it as a journey where i learn more on the way rather than a means to an end. We’re meant to reflect for half a day every week on all the work we have done. This lecture was also designed to introduce us to the idea of becoming “Thinking Practitioners” and teaching us to think about art on a higher more theoretical level, i found this useful because theoretical thinking is something i feel i need more practice with. We were also instructed to experiment all the time and not be afraid to use materials in unconventional ways, so i have decided to create a sketchbook full simply of experiments failed or successful to document my progress in this year
The lecture then went on to look at COLLAGE which was the theme of the lecture, this immediately made me think of Hannah Hoch and her collages, she used a type of collage called “photo montage” specifically, she was not mentioned in this lecture but was the first artist that came to mind when the word collage was mentioned. So this has inspired me to look into her work in a later post and see what the themes of her photo montages are and what impact they made on society. One of the key points in this lecture were to research things that interest you personally and that you can be passionate about, Hannah Hoch’s style of collage represents ideas about feminism which i have an interest in and will research futher.
The first image we were shown was the Maxwell House Coffee Advert from the 1950’s:
This was an advert around in the time of modernity and its from the USA and the word that jumps out at me is INSTANT, which most things at the time were for consumers, you could go out and buy pretty much anything very easily, which was a complete contrast to the times during WW2 where everything was rationed and in short supply. This is also an example about how in the 1950’s advertising was de contextualised from its history and any cultural issues. This was a good example because it got us all thinking about the history of the product itself and any cultural issues surrounding it, like in this case coffee was farmed by slaves which isnt the first thing you think of when looking at a coffee advert in passing.
One of the things i found most interesting in this lecture was seeing the work of an artist named Linder Sterling who was born in 1954, she uses performance art and is also a visual artist from Liverpool. I always tend to be interested in artists that come from the UK because things that inspired them here are easily accessible to me. Linder is a radical feminist, and i think this could be useful in my essay because i have an interest in feminism, but i have a non feminist point of view on it and would like to learn more about how feminism works. I always find its more interesting to look at things you don’t necessarily agree with in all circumstances and see if research changes my mind on the issue.
This image is one Linder made for a band called the Buzzcocks for their single “orgasm addict” in 1977, they were a punk band and Linder was a big part of the punk movement due to her relationship with art and politics. At the time Linder said :
“At this point, men’s magazines were either DIY, cars or porn. Women’s magazines were fashion or domestic stuff. So, guess the common denominator – the female body. I took the female form from both sets of magazines and made these peculiar jigsaws highlighting these various cultural monstrosities that I felt there were at the time.”
When i first saw this image in the lecture i’ll admit i wasn’t very impressed, it was hard to gather meaning from a few minutes of viewing on a powerpoint presentation, but the quote above has allowed it to make more sense now. At the time this was created there was no sense of equality for men and women, women were there to be dominated and subjugated, to be slaves to the kitchen as it were. Its this collage however simply constructed it is, that makes a bold statement on this issue, shes taking the one common thing that is shown to men and women, womens bodies and changing its purpose. The iron for the head takes away the womens ability to think independent thoughts and be seen as an individual herself, she just becomes a robot to serve men with her body and to iron their clothes. I imagine this collage didn’t go down too well at the time in conservative families and societies.
I think as the iron represents taking the womans ability to think for herself and be an individual with her own identity, the smiles on the nipples reference how men might often look at that area when speaking to a woman as if she is speaking from her chest. This is a different collage than those i regularly encounter because the message is bold and simple and powerful, rather than being a collection of materials used to make something visually exciting its a collection of simple picture cuttings to make a feminist statement.
This lecture has caused me to look more at the message behind collages than i would have immediately, because the coffee advert is a collage in itself that tries to mask the truth behind the coffee with bright colours and attractive words while Linder’s collage does the opposite, it ignores the asthetic’s by using just magazine cuttings and makes a bold statement about equality. Does this show the difference between the Uk and the USA at the time? maybe this is a subject to research more!