Profile | Dennis Busch on “The Art of Collage 2”

Artwork: Peter Horvath.

From contemporary legends like John Baldessari and Richard Prince to rising stars such as Wangechi Mutu, Kent Rogowski, and Gert & Uwe Tobias, The Art of Collage Vol. 2 (Gestalten) presents a delightfully subversive compendium of contemporary collage around the world today. Edited by Dennis Busch and Robert Klanten, the book features more than 70 artists, documenting the current developments on the scene. Busch speaks with Crave about this cutting-edge art and the way in which it speaks to our twenty-first-century sensibilities.

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The book begins with the statement: “Subversion is at the core of collage.” Please speak to the way collage subverts our understandings and expectations of art, authorship, and representation.

Dennis Busch: The medium of collage makes it possible to embody new ways and forms of thinking and feeling. The collage technique is the perfect tool for an artist to push things right through the walls of time and create magical loopholes. Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow can be mixed up into one strange brew. With the collage technique, you can create a decomposition of time and space and step right into a dimension of transformation and everlasting changes. Collage making for me is a wide-eyed, open, fast-paced, spontaneous, anarchic and powerful tool with which I can express myself—like I am dying and giving birth in the same second. I like to view the technique of collage making as a responsible human expression. It reflects so many parts of a sample-based generation that we are forced to live in. Collaging today is like digging for a wonderful undetected rough diamond, sleeping under skies, waiting for the right moment to shine bright and blissful above the dark romantic valleys of itself in the drowning present age.

Artwork: Thomas Robson

Artwork: Thomas Robson

What do you think it is about the reordering of reality in collage that speaks to us intellectually as well as aesthetically?

I think one of the main positions of collage making is to cross boundaries, connect them. In the world of collage making, you are invited to stroll around like a drunken Alice in Wonderland equipped with magical cutters, scissors, and glue. You can put things, forms, and meanings in different relations to enter a void where everything can be mixed anew to create new forms of understanding and awareness. Collage making is to manifest something that can never be manifested. Once you have opened the door, you realize there’s no going back.

The collage first captured the artist imaginations in the early twentieth century, and remains very much in vogue. Please speak about how the collage speaks to the twenty-first century, now that new techniques are available through digital sourcing, production, and modification.

A door is thought to open where there had not previously been one. Generally, the people are more open for new ways and forms. A new consciousness in approaching, making, thinking and feeling nowadays celebrates a huge comprehensive party. I am not against the digitalization of visions.


Artwork: Matt Maitland

There is a hype around the handmade. This corresponds to the idea of wanting to position oneself—without the help of electronic tools- as the body’s own universal desired instrument. It’s all about “feeling” within “seeing“ of apparent contexts and linking paradoxes in the sense of surreal “self-finding“ in the limitlessly playable cosmos, where the artist, equipped with scissors, scalpel and glue, mutates into the body’s own astronaut and leaves the past, present and future behind in order to force open a loophole through space and time.

Collage is the perfect tool to re-orientate oneself as an astronaut within interstellar time and space. There is something in this of shamanism coupled with the inventive spirit-madness of a crazygoing Gyro Gearloose. Shaking the kaleidoscope of the imagination leads you to redefine oneself, entering into a new world. What happens is something of a time leap. Out of the present, full throttle into the past, to arrive—at a dreamlike snail’s pace – at a future which lies behind us. In an increasingly fast-moving world opposites attract each other, repel each other and continually create new forms and possibilities. Mixing, cutting and sampling are, in a way, the basis of the time in which we live in. It is about creating ever-new worlds and acting upon them again and again—with responsibility.

Artwork: Laurindo Feliciano

Artwork: Laurindo Feliciano

Artwork from: The Art of Collage Vol. 2, courtesy of Gestalten

Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.