Cultural baggage

I’m doing the weekly prompts by the Paris Collage Collective and here are two from last week.

The original prompt:

The original prompt

I got tickled by finding a garden gnome sticker after tidying up my stash. I hesitated to go there as I am just so tired of German stereotypes… On the other hand, it felt hilarious. So this was the second piece I did. I tried to avoid it by doing a more classical piece first, but then I couldn’t NOT do the gnome one. It took a while for me to actually share it. Another round of conniptions…

This brings up interesting reflection for me on where we take things, what is easy and what is hard and for which reason, and the lure and abhorrence of the easy path. I’ll keep pondering…

Here come the garden gnomes:

“Sodele Jetzetle” Lior 2022

And here is the nice intellectual more classical one I did first:

“For the Birds” Lior 2022

An invitation to experiment

This year (2022), I’ve started to participate in the weekly challenges of the Paris Collage Collective (via Instagram). They share one prompt picture (free to use), and for a week, everyone can play with this in their own collages and share back where they land.

This is turning into a lovely practice for a number of reasons:
–Prompt to make something
–Being part of a group playing with the same thing (accountability)
–Curiosity where others take the same prompt and how that comes out in their own style. As I explore the same with my own.

Find my ongoing posts here on insta.

For now, here is what I made of the first prompt so you get an idea:

Week 1:

This was the prompt by Paris Collage Collective

This was my way of treating it:

My treatment of the prompt.

I was at the same time making a very exuberant orange flower arrangement, so I wanted that same kind of spirit. I ended up photographing the flowers, and also using the same dried flowers with the collage as well #meta …

Here is the flower arrangement.

The flower arrangement that ended up featuring in the collage. By way of this picture, but also with some of the leftover orange flowers… My floristry is here on insta.

Constraints and capturing the Zeitgeist

If advertising claims to feed into what people want, it’s not a bad place to look for what’s up in people’s minds and hearts.

I collected the ad flyers arriving in my place over a week in early December 2021, and turned them into 2 collages. I was struck how low-grade dystopian-horny-passive-aggressive they came out… It did feel a lot like the general vibe so maybe this wasn’t just in my own head…

Here it goes. Quality and Stuffed.

Quality. Lior 2021
Stuffed. Lior 2021

Growing collection of Zeitgeist Collages here

Accidentally awesome

I made this quick painting yesterday.

“Bit windy” Jan2022

I was in the middle of revising a bit of writing, so I had a stash of printing paper next to me. Generally that doesn’t hold up well to acrylics but I was basically too lazy to get up and dig for the heftier paper. I taped it to a piece of canvas and scraped the paint onto it with an old gift card.

I realized after drying that the texture of the canvas underneath had rubbed through, which is actually really cool. While I’d definitely recommend using heftier paper for acrylics for “proper” paintings, I’ll keep playing with this for my collage input, I want to do more with that texture now.

Always worth experimenting to see what you learn 🙂

Going Coastal – an experiment

Most of my collages so far have been less layered. Using bright pieces but not doing a whole lot else on top once they are in place. I’ve seen work of some artists who keep adding layers on top, and decided to give it a go.

Going Coastal. Made with map fragments, origami paper, tissue paper, inside of envelopes and other found interesting pieces of paper, a piece of handmade paper I made earlier, and a whole separate collage integrated that I didn’t like as much separately as I thought.

Here is the piece I now declared finished:

Going Coastal. Lior 2021

I love how it draws you in, how there are always new things to discover in the layers. How bits of landscape and cityscape form, also across the initial collage parts. The thick green lines came from one of the map fragments and I extended it over the page. It isn’t always clear cut where the landscape ends and the sea begins. It’s often like that, particularly if your seaside is quite tidal. I also love the ambiguity what’s a city and what’s a landscape. You will also see some elements of the collage bits then making a reappearance again on top, extending out over the original piece, which helps to tie it together. If I’m honest, I’m less happy with some of the colours but didn’t want to keep going over it and covering up the interesting shapes and textures underneath. Also, not all pieces I used were great for working on top of in more rounds, so that’s something to also keep in mind for the future. It is what it is. Overall, I like where it landed.

Here are some more details (the full piece is A3):

“Going Coastal” – detail (Lior 2021)
“Going Coastal” – detail (Lior 2021) – that colourful bit with the cornwall map and the coffee cups was a whole separate scrapbook-style collage earlier
“Going Coastal” – detail (Lior 2021)
“Going Coastal” – detail (Lior 2021)

I loved the experiment and next time I’d like to take more interim pictures of the various steps. ‘ll be a bit more deliberate what I put down as first layer, and use things that are similarly workable for future rounds next time, and have more of a think of the overall colour scheme before I start. Although – with that kind of work, you never really know where you end up anyway…

JFDI

“Just F***ing Do It”

There is beauty in that. I had gotten out of practice a bit in making art regularly as I had a few other things on over the last months. I sat down for 2 days and just focused on making things. Focus on the movements, the materials. Rather than worrying about how it looks, if I was going to like the outcomes. I focused on just getting things onto the page, intuitively. It felt amazing. I kept going until I had used up every glue stick and liquid glue in the house. Some collages were ready the way they were. Some ended up going into multiple reworks since. A little series emerged. And lots of other pieces. It’s a good start. I’m back.

Work in progress… Collages and scraps…

Anticipation

I’m at the very early stages of a project. It’s exciting, and I can’t say much else at this stage. I have the overarching idea, the materials, and a deadline (mid-March). I work well within a frame like that, it holds me accountable to who I want to be by then and what I want to be able to show. It might not work, of course, but I need that to get started. The topic resonates deeply so whatever outcome, with earnest endeavour, will be the right one. Can’t wait.

What do you stand for?

I recently realized that an artist I had bought some work from had horrible transphobic views. That is obviously not on, I am nonbinary myself and absolutely support my trans siblings in the human family. It felt awful having to realize I had supported that artist with my money, and I felt bad for not having done a deeper due diligence.

I have just returned the work (this isn’t about the money although it does hurt, it’s not the gallery’s fault either, I bought the work years ago). It’s more about being very clear what I want to energize, and what I don’t, and about giving very clear feedback. It’s also a lesson for me to look deeper into what artists show up with and for, beyond their art. These things matter. This all shapes the world we live in. And I want the world to be a place where everyone is welcome.

Update (a few days later):
I just got a message from the gallerist. The tone switched from concerned/serious (which was her initial response) to absolutely most gleeful. How she is the personal best friend of the artist and that the 3 pieces I sent back were the ones missing in her personal collection. And then the kicker of a “live and let live”, clearly in no way acknowledging the transphobia of her friend and how that might impact other people. I now not only bought art, didn’t get a refund, I also made sure it was professionally packed and paid for shipping, which cost me the equivalent of my food budget for a week. I should have creatively destroyed them. I feel physically sick having received that message.

Making something (rituals and symbolic recombination)


Earlier this year, I started making paper. This was, for me, a ritual. A way to close one chapter in my life, and to start a new one in a creative way.

Rituals are fascinating. They put spirit into matter. They give your physicality a way to experience a process, a state, a transformation in ways that make it real, that seals it in in ways that aren’t easily reversible. It’s visceral. It’s intentional. It gets it out of your head and into the body, into the world. Things need to be “right”, “ripe”, “ready”. It needs time and space. Often there are witnesses. And then it’s real and you come back into the world a different person. With new experiences and new skills, a new layer in the sedimentation process that keeps forming the person.

During lockdown-1 I had landed in an unsafe living situation which I then had to flee. There were threats. It was all immensely disruptive on all levels and at the worst possible time. I am still working through the consequences of it all. It will take a while to get back to a “normal” my previous self would recognize.

This ritual of making paper was one of the many ways to start dealing with some of the inner stuff, to close a chapter and keep moving forward. This paper is made of printouts of the threatening messages I got, and bits of the book draft with things that kept me going (the book launched in May), and the mindmaps and post-its how I created the book idea.

WITH (detail). Artwork and photo: Lior Locher

I kept some of the paper scraps deliberately bigger, sometimes you can still read words. The placing is random, wherever they landed in the process. I added sage, and a few drops of blue colour. And then I added embroidery on the finished pieces, to smoothen the edges and to mend some tears. I used gold thread to elevate that work, the way I think mending things and repairing things should be elevated and ennobled.

WITH (corner detail with embroidery). Artwork and photo: Lior Locher

In rituals, things are often symbolically combined and elevated into something special. I did that very deliberately here. A point of pride in sticking it out long enough, holding the pain and doing the work, keeping moving forward. I had to spread the work over multiple days to find the strength to keep doing the next step, and the one thereafter. There is always something in the process of creation that you can’t fast-track. Something that needs to settle, to dry out. And not just the paper pulp.

It’s not always clear what a helpful thing is going to look like, a lot of artistic endeavor only looks obvious in the rear-view mirror, once you’ve done it and it worked. I had plenty of ideas that didn’t go anywhere, and some test runs with other materials that didn’t work, before I settled on the approach you see here. I had to learn papermaking, trying out a few rounds before feeling comfortable enough to go with the material for the ritual.

I then fortified the initial approach with elements that mattered, that I hoped would make it stronger. The sage felt like a helpful nod to rituals past. I also wanted to reconnect with linage through my maternal grandmother. She was a herbalist and there is a family tradition with all sorts of crafts, she also embroidered. That link to lineage was very important to me, I needed that to feel less alone.

I needed an outside prompt. I used the call from the Royal Academy to submit to the Summer Exhibition on “reclaiming magic” as a prompt. That also set a deadline to create something and to show up with it. I didn’t get chosen. That’s OK. I did the work. Some of it is visible.

WITH, 2021. Mixed media. Artwork and photo: Lior Locher

(A first version written in July, updated in November 2021)