John Stezaker: Working from the Collection

Sarah Hundt

John Stezaker

#12:  Working from the Collection

– Atelier des Forges

When I first walked in to John Stezaker‘s exhibition, I didn’t like how he had connected images together.  I’ve seen works before when people put multiple pictures together to form one – so I wasn’t sure what made his work different.  However, then I started walking around and looking at his pieces more intently.  The first image I noticed because it had Rosemary Clooney (White Christmas’s Betty) in it.

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John Stezaker had an interest in conceptual photography and he then began to focus on the image, “finding new aesthetic allegiances with the image through working with found photographs and printed matter.”  He translated into “alterations, deletions, visual concordances and juxtapositions of disparate sources” which created new images all together.  These remade images allow the viewers to imagine new relationships, characters and meanings that weren’t in the initial two images.

But it wasn’t until this piece that I truly appreciated how much work he must have put into his pieces.  At first I looked at it as a whole and didn’t understand why he would place the ocean photo over the portrait.  Then if you look carefully, you notice that the ocean spray forms the shape of her hair.

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His other pieces use either landscape images, portraits, or other staged photographs and cut them together to form a new image.  I don’t remember seeing titles listed under/near the collages.  And if they were listed on the side of a wall it’s hard to connect which title goes with which collage.

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I looked at the image above for awhile because from afar it seems that it’s a single photo.  Both images look to be from a television show, and the lower left photograph depicts a man cutting into a woman’s leg.  You can also see her gripping his arm and biting his sleeve to keep herself from screaming.  By paring that portion of one photo with the other (where the ladies stare on either in adoration/boredom) Stezaker created a new story.

It’s amazing to think just how much time he must put into finding the right images to fit the portraits.  I would definitely recommend looking at more of John Stezaker’s work to see just how he pairs images to work as a whole.

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