Cutting through to the Lost World: a John Stezaker Symposium
In conjunction with the exhibition John Stezaker: Lost World.
A graduate of the Slade School and having taught at the Royal College, London, for many years, Stezaker is highly respected as an academic, curator and writer. Stezaker is famous for his distinctive, often deceptively simple, collages. Hugely influential, he has been making art since the 1970s. In 2011, he had a retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, and in 2012 he won the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize.
Hiding In Plain Sight
Some thoughts on the hidden in art and in particular in my own collages.
In this brief paper I want to suggest that pictures become images through the presence of a hidden dimension. Essentially this paradoxical presence of absence is experienced as the proximity of the invisible to the visible. Masks, which are probably the first constructed images, embodied this principal from the beginning. As Canetti says “masks show much but they hide much more”. He sees the power of the mask deriving from what is hidden inspiring the fear but also fascination with the unknowable behind. I want to try to relate this interest in the dark recesses behind the image to shadow, another preoccupation in my collage work. I first became interested in the aspect of collage as a process of concealment in the late 70s with my film still and postcard collages and with my “Mask” series.
I believe that what makes an image fascinating is the imaginary presence of the occulted, a space which promises stillness and seclusion and is a space of both reverie and dread.
From his early sculptures to recent collages in the exhibition, this paper will consider the notion of touch and proximity in the work of John Stezaker. What are the physical and allusive implications of settling one thing against another?
Dr Kyla McFarlane is Curator Academic Programs (Research) at the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne. Kyla has worked both independently and held key curatorial positions at the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, and Monash University Museum of Art. Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, McFarlane has written and curated extensively on visual art in Australasia, with a particular emphasis on lens-based and feminist practice. She holds a PhD in visual culture from Monash University, focusing on the relationship between photography, feminism and psychoanalysis. In 2014 she was an Asialink Arts resident in Singapore. McFarlane has also taught at tertiary level at the University of Auckland and Monash University.
Screen seeing: looking through photography
This paper will look at how images that are apparently set in their ways might amount to something new. Stezaker famously draws on remnant images – from Hollywood actor’s studio close ups and cinema scene stills to picture postcards. He elides these two old worlds into a new and uncanny third. Stezaker acts like a cinema safe-cracker, looking and listening closely for minute alignments whereby these image worlds are found to magically and mysteriously align. What might these safe-cracker’s combinations have to say about how we have come to experience the world through photography through time.
Dr Patrick Pound is coordinator of Higher Degrees by Research in Art and Performance at Deakin University. He is an artist and art historian with a focus on photography. Pound’s traditional research includes photography and transmission, photography and the archive in the digital era, the invention and history of documentary style photography, Walker Evans, Henry James and photography, A.L. Coburn and documentary Pictorialism. He is also an artist who works with photographic archives.
John Stezaker in Conversation
Followed by an open ‘in conversation’ between John Stezaker and Robert Leonard (the Lost World exhibition curator: City Gallery Wellington), Kyla McFarlane, Patrick Pound and the audience.
Chaired by Patrick Pound.