Tag Archives: activismart

Re-contextualising images

Exercise 2, photomontages and collages.

So my initial research was with the named artists in the course book. These are my thoughts on those artists, with the addition of some of my own found artists.

My initial reactions to the artists is one of intrigue. They seem to all cover war. I appreciate that this was the most controversial topic over the last 100 years, it also reminds me, that with Brexit, the EU peace treaty comes to an end between Britain and the rest of Europe.

John Heartfield satirises it with the use of photo-collages, mixing hitler with an ape certainly invokes the dark humour of the time. His piece called “The Executioner and Justice” certainly shows how, at times of war, justice becomes blind to what is going on. Very few words are needed to discern their meaning, and at the time the visuals would have been startling compared to the “blitz mentality” and official propaganda that was being produced across Europe.

Another great example of an anti war activist is Peter Kennard. His visual language is completely different from Heartfield’s. Where Heartfield’s montages are more chaotic and have humour, Kennard’s are more instructional and fierce. His use of bold text on his montages adds a different dynamic than Heartfield’s collages. There’s little to unravel and the message is revealed with a single glance. His tone is louder, his use of capital letters across the anti bomb posters is something that has continued into modern digital conversations as attention seeking or shouting. A matter if urgency is displayed across the works from anti nuclear bombs to protesting the privatisation of the telephone systems in the UK.

Cleaning the drapes by Martha Rosler

I find Martha Rosler’s collages sit neatly between Heartfield’s and Kennard’s works. They mix the dramatic war imagery of Kennard’s work with the satirical nature of Heartfield’s. Rosler uses everyday scenes juxtaposed over war scenes to show how western society turns a blind eye to the atrocities across the world. The images strike a complex balance between a satirical look at modern society in America and the UK and the harsh realities of living in a war zone. Her use of curtains adds a reality into the images as we close our curtains to shut out the outside world.

Meanwhile I find myself perplexed by Hannah Höch’s work. Her collages seem amateurish, however technically the images are well sought and placed. It takes me to read about her background to understand the meaning of her work. At face value it is difficult to discern why she picked these particular images, and I can only assume that at the time she made them these images would have been well recognised. It is well placed within the Dada movement, of chaos and satire, and you can see how surrealism developed as an offshoot of dadaism.

This exercise reminds me of the recent ghosts of war images used to remind people of the atrocities that are being forgotten. The collages of every day scenes imbedded with war time photography is a stark reminder that our landscape hides the evidence of our past.

Seth Taras

The collection of images below are from an instagram artist called urugallen.

I find these images as startling as the ghosts of war images due the artists attention to detail in the images he selects. They have similar storylines as Martha Rosler’s work, however the clean lines between images seems to add the immediacy of Kennard’s work.

People holding Red Leave posters being force fed right wing propaganda through foie gras feeding tubes
© Fois Gras by Kekezza Reece

This is my montage based on my belief that no decisions are made in isolation. We all make decisions based on our assumptions and perceptions. We are surrounded by information all the time, even if we choose not to buy newspapers, watch the news, and view adverts. We are still bombarded as we go about our daily lives. This force feeding of views and opinions, wrapped up as news, has now become so endemic in our mainstream media that it is hard to find the true facts in any article.