Mark Bradford, Christian Holstad, and Wangechi Mutu discuss “Collage: The Unmonumental Picture”
January 19 2008
Chief Curator Richard Flood led a conversation with three artists from “Collage: The Unmonumental Picture.”
Mark Bradford’s work is inspired by the social dynamics of community, determined by race, class, gender, sexuality, migration, and their attendant stereotypes. Through collage, video, photography, and installation, Bradford explores public space by excerpting and recomposing its contents—from billboard posters to beauty salon endpapers—to create abstract compositions whose grids, lines, and fields of color flicker with the visual and informational juxtapositions that characterize the urban experience. Bradford elegantly corrals the explosive energy of his work into an abstract narrative that reflects our geographical and geopolitical surroundings.
Christian Holstad’s artistic practice consists of photography, drawing, sculpture, installation, and collage. A self-described “visual junkie,” the subject of his work includes the ways in which appearance-based stereotypes obscure individual sexual identity. Referring both to the mainstream and subculture, Holstad’s collages often depict erotic couplings of gay men whose bodies are composed of decorative patterns and textures extracted from magazines ranging from high-end fashion and lifestyle rags to small-press porn publications. These intimate scenes are set in unexpected or even contradictory surroundings such as immaculate, designer-home interiors, monumental architectural settings, or surreal landscapes. This juxtaposition of at least two kinds of decadence and desire serves to both charge conventional environments and cheerfully normalize same-sex erotic activity.
Wangechi Mutu’s wall paintings, collages, and installations make reference to race, politics, fashion, and African identity. Mutu assembles portraits that challenge media depictions of fashion, pornography, and ethnography. Her idiosyncratic renderings of female sexuality catalyze multiple interpretations: each exquisite portrait incorporates the contradictions, stereo¬types, and expectations of African women and the African diaspora.