Presence and absence

(4″x 4″ paper collage currently sat on green cutting mat)
There are so many things I want to say about this collage. To me, this is a landmark in the development of this series of work. I could write a thousand words about my deliberate use of triangles, followed by a million simply about the chosen title. Where do I start?
I’ll start with the hole.
When I started cutting (as opposed to ripping) at the start of this [re]Adventures series I promised myself to only cut with scissors (along with a whole heap of other rules which lasted about 5 minutes). But the scissors rule felt important to me because it felt low-tech. It felt like just one step up from ripping. It reminded me of the first day I was trusted with scissors as a child. The idea of crude cuts with inadequate scissors felt suited to my cheap and unpolished approach to art-making.
But today I used a scalpel and cut out a hole. I’m not sure why I did this. All my work has been about building up layers. layers of memory, layers of tricks and lies, layers of flaws and imaginings. To create an absence rather than an added presence creates an extra complication to my work that I’m not sure about at the moment. To physically cut out something [a memory] rather than paste over it has implications and ramifications beyond the skills of even the best psychologists.
And yet it felt right to cut the hole because it felt wrong not to. It felt wrong to cover over such simple and beautiful shapes that had developed as I worked this piece. It felt natural to expose the vulnerability of this area of the collage. I felt like I was revealing something that needed to be seen; exposing an inner beauty rather than deliberate defacement.
It is only afterwards I thought of Doris Salcedo’s ‘Shibboleth’.

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