Continuing page 17 in my Altered art book, I mentioned before that one mans junk is sometimes another man’s treasure. But how about discarded things coming together, or being delibrately brought together to make art? Connections being made, alliances, partnerships formed to communicate a message?
One person who does this is New Zealand artist Dale Copeland. I have always admired her assemblages. She takes the found objects, marries them and makes them sing! Her pieces are quirky, witty, thought provoking: sometimes they are like little poems or bits of prose. They also leave space for you to provide the punchline.
I am always affected by looking at these assemblages. There is always a response to these pieces: they are communicative, sensitive and clever and instinctual.
American artist and sculpter Joseph Cornell (b. 1903 -1972) created boxed assemblages from bric a brac. A surrealist at heart, his assemblages are bits of beautiful nostalgia found in thrift shops: pieces of the past affecting the present (or that moment anyway).
The term ‘assemblage artist’ was first coined by the French artist Jean Dubuffet as a way of defining found objects into 3D structures. Others that took this up were Robert Rauchenberg, Kurt Schwitters and Man Ray.
It seems odd to think that the things we disgard or throw away could be valuable after all. Not in a monetary way, but perhaps in a spiritual way, the way they can teach us something about ourselves. Sometimes by juxtaposing certain components, something is unlocked, like using the right combination on a safe.