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Rachel GarfieldClick here to Print this Page
Keith Piper
There is something of Piper's work that operates concurrently as both montage and collage .(4)

The significance of Piper's use of collage can be seen in some analyses by Rosalind Krauss and Kobena Mercer: Rosalind Krauss argues in the catalogue of 'l'Amour Fou'.Photography and Surrealism, that collage was employed in Dada to disrupt the 'seamlessness of the indexical in photography', crucial for the emergence of a 'language effect' that opens up a reading, an interpretation of what otherwise would be believed without question .(5) Krauss uses in her example "The Phenomenon of Ecstasy' by Salvador Dali from 1933, which brings together samples of ears from Andre Betillon's eugenics photography identifying criminals with images of ecstatic women, a statue, a chair. What is problematic in Dali's imagery becomes a critique in the work of Piper. Another counterpoint is the artist Romare Bearden, whose photomontage projections used 'post-cubist space' and Black vernacular imagery to remark upon the condition of African Americans .(6) Kobena Mercer in 'Romare Bearden, 1964, Collage as Kunstwollen' writes of the significance of the rip in his work as critique. There are obvious links through subject matter, with Piper's concern with surveillance and the fetishisation of the black subject in Dali, and the social production of the Black Subject in Bearden. However, the legacy I am interested in here is not concerned with subject matter but the relationship between stylistic strategies, underpinned by a sophisticated and dynamic disjunction of image, text, object and narration, which function as critique across all three artists. So the fragment operates not just to activate the viewer but to create meaning in the work through the tensions of a narrative regained in pieces.

(4)Montage as outlined by Eisenstein is 'the spectator is compelled to proceed along the self same creative road that the author travelled' (Eisenstein:1943, 43.) (5)Krauss, Rosallind, 'Photography in the Service of Surrealism', Art of the Twentieth Century', Jason Gaiger, Paul Wood (eds), 2003, Open University, pp. 114-132 (6)Cosmopolitan Modernisms (ed) Mercer, Kobena, Iniva/MIT press, 2005, pp. 124-145, Kobena Mercer also cites the significance of the us of mediated imagery as an acknowledgement of fantasy, or example, Africa as fantasy not as the authentic in his work.
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