And yet, the process of cutting up imagery and manipulating the resulting fragments and pieces actually mirrors our hyper-modern mode of mass-consumption. Everything, it seems - from the way things are manufactured to the way we shop for them to our entire culture - feels like one giant cut-and-paste. "In the moment of deciding on the final composition, bringing those fragments together in the pasting, one assumes the position of the consumer, selecting from all these complete, ready-made fragments and assembling them into meaning in the same way one assembles a lifestyle," notes David Banash, Professor of English at Western Illinois University and author of Collage Culture: Readymades, Meaning, and the Age of Consumption (Rodopi).
The cutting and reassembling of collage starts with a rupturing or critique (the cut itself) followed by forming a new image, a preserving of history. "Because it is a desire for the past," continues Banash, "nostalgia turns our attention to what has been lost and holds onto it, keeps it from slipping away — which in a capitalist context of disposability can itself be a kind of resistance." Which makes nostalgia actually quite powerful.
Beautiful, even. "As a nostalgic practice, collage is capable of reactivating our whole material culture in really compelling ways," says Banash about this "way of idealizing the materials of the past into experiences of immediacy and authenticity." And the result? A sudden understanding of how we imagined ourselves in the past, or what one critic calls "profane illuminations. The ability of collage not only to preserve our archive but reactivate it within the context of the emerging world of consumer culture, explains why collage has become so important and why we view it as being so modern.
- Lesley Scott
(photo collages by Ismaël Moumin via source)
NOTE: Honoring the past to help us pave the way forward fashionwise is a signature of the Folkspun fashion tribe. For more of my posts about this tribe, CLICK HERE. To learn more about each of fashion's four mega-tribes that I track, START HERE.