“a sense of abandon/ but not a lack of discipline” began as an act of outreach by a rural artist into her digital art community.
I have been making community-based works that explore distance and belonging through craft and making practices. These works have relied heavily on artist residencies as site and subject matter. In 2016 myself and my husband moved to the village of Cumberland on Vancouver Island and my art community became primarily a digital one. Distance became both a financial and social challenge within my practice. In response I reached out and asked over 100 artists and writers to provide me with an image of the spaces in which they make their work.
As the images slowly piled up in my inbox, COVID 19 flooded into our lives and the work of reaching out gained heightened importance. Artist residencies were put on pause, as were exhibitions.
“a sense of abandon/ but not a lack of discipline” is a quote from pioneer photo-montage artist Hannah Hoch. At multiple times during the project I thought about the ways in which collage might offer the freedom to imagine a future re-framed. The use of existing imagery implies not a new start but a metamorphosis. For Hoch, this was of particular importance as a woman venturing outside of traditional social roles. As we were all asked to stay at home, a little piece of me felt the walls closing in. How easy would it be for us to revert rather than transform during these dangerous times?
I turned to the studio images and began a daily practice of working into the images through collage. Using existing imagery to fill them with impossible collaborations, emotional landscapes and imagined futures.
With financial assistance from the BC Arts Council and the Wosk Foundation, these collage works have been converted into mail-out posters with letters embedded in them to the participating artists and writers. Each letter responded to a message that I had received during the making process. I asked for a copy to be posted somewhere in their neighbourhood or environment and photographed. Through this act, each participant becomes a curator, choosing how this work is or is not seen in their locale. I, as artist, am at their whim beyond the digital realm.
This website shows the original collages, the posters in place and the letters to each participant. It has been a joy to reconnect with all of these creative people who continue to reimagine the world in which we live.
“a sense of abandon/ but not a lack of discipline” has become a mode of social and creative survival during a pandemic.
Thank you to each of you.