Sunday, July 29, 2018

Revolutionary Paths: New Collage at Antenna

People have always cut and pasted old things together to make new things, but when the modernist artists of the early 20th century sliced and diced printed pictures and mass produced graphics and reassembled them as new images they called “collages” they knew they were on to something. In fact, they were adapting visual art to a time when traditional lifestyles were struggling to survive in the face of the disruptive technological and economic changes. In that sense, collages anticipated the disruptive way digital manipulation has now widened the gulf between seeing and believing. In this Revolutionary Paths expo, curator Ric Kasini Kadour showcases how collages can also reshuffle the puzzle pieces of the world in poetic new ways that shed light on the widely held, yet often confounding, sensibilities that diverse peoples share.

Stephen Schaub's a wall-width photo-panorama, Stop, above, offers crazy-quilt views of Chartres St. while evoking the random stream of consciousness way we now see the world around us in this age of mass distraction. Nonney Oddlokken's Blood Moon Offering on Bayou Deja Vu is also panoramic, but here a swamp priestess presides over colorful thread on paper renditions of cypresses, pitcher plants and luna moths that reveal unexpected parallels between voodoo and the digital world. Michael Pajon's Bird Brain cutaway view of a human head, left, harks to antique medical diagrams, but swamp birds busily cavorting where the brain should be suggests that human behavior may reflect instincts more primal than rational. Paul Dean's Electrum, or The Curse of Living in Interesting Times, above, right, reflects humanity's eternal dreams of empire and glory in a seamless mash-up of manic monumentalism over the ages. Such structures can wall people off from their inner selves as well as from each other, but Alex Hood's A La Orden view of a Nubian princess, top, emerging from a vortex in space-time suggests that imagination may be a kind of quantum solvent that can penetrate barriers that had once appeared unassailable. Visual art has historically anticipated shifts in perception, and seeing the world around us as a massive collage may help break down our inner walls  or possibly even extend mental boundaries of the possible. ~Bookhardt / Revolutionary Paths: New Work by Contemporary American Collage Artists, Through Aug. 5, Antenna Gallery, 3718 Saint Claude Ave., 250-7975.