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14 April to 8 May 2010

“And we might conclude by moralising on the fact, that as it is by wear and tear and destruction of the agent that its worth is developed, so it often is that men, in striving and labouring for society and the world, are themselves exhausted and consumed, and the elements of their physical constitution pass away, to mingle with, and to be absorbed into, the universe at large”.1

The dialectical opposition between destruction and conservation that exists in the collage process opens itself to interpretation and narrative. This tension is not unique to collage, but also exists in daily life processes. As paper is present in many thinking processes I prefer to view paper as a way of understanding the work that people do and their reasoning behind what they do. Paper becomes tangible evidence of communication occurring within society. We destroy in order to conserve. The archaeologist unearths the artefact and disturbs the site.

In collage, traces of contemporary life are unearthed via the recovery of discarded paper resources. Layers of earth are moved delicately with brush, hands and spoon. So too layers of paper use the brush, hands and other implements in the process of tearing away, exposure and pasting. Concealment. There is a sense of clarity in piecing together paper resources; finding interpretation from traces of fictional and existing representations of cultural identity. The discarded matter of past and present civilisations in this instance finds new life through re-interpretation. A broken shard of ancient pottery, a morsel of found jewellery, a found paper resource feeds our sense of inquiry.

The role of paper is complex and interwoven into the dynamics of society. In collage, it is a construction of fractures. The laying out of paper in space in order to view resources is imperative to the notion of constructing these fractures. The documentation, storage and access of documents in smaller intimate spaces affect the size, order and chronology of their making. The restrictions of space also affect the amount of time taken to prepare and finally complete work. As spontaneous as the process can be, some of these works take years to complete.

“Only those who have made the experiment know the bewilderment with which the editor . . . striving to find in the fragmentary evidence of an incomplete historical record, such a sequence of meanings as may form a logical chain of development . . . lead(ing) to the entire pulling to pieces and reconstruction of the edifice. “2

The restriction under which this process occurs is no different to people’s interaction with tools and resources as well as others within social and cultural boundaries. The limitations here are what shape the tactile and intimate nature of this work. They are stored away for lengths at a time to be re-addressed at later stages of accumulated experiences and knowledge. They twist and turn meanings along with subtle nuances that the collage medium affords.

The images by and large are made up of ephemera that are common in daily life. I have made no attempts to order specific sources; these images are made up of the visual language that we are all polluted, corrupted and inspired by each day. They are gathered and collected each day and along the way. These works have not been a result of deviations, but restricted to the journey of the routine. The jog in the street, the walk in the park, off to work and back home. Using the visual language of advertising the resulting images become subconsciously familiar and intuitive.

Society has a preconceived and perhaps unconscious expectation that the value of paper is as a temporary or intermediary tool used in a variety of activities. And while this is not entirely accurate there is a sentimentality in this train of thought and particularly how people view and value the age of different objects and artefacts. In these works I have focussed on the familiarity of domestic and assorted objects coupled with urban landscapes to observe the nuances within a consumer oriented environment. As with previous and continuous research, I am fascinated by the techniques, concerns and desire for the preservation of culture on several anthropological plains and the organisational processes that continue to shape our existence.

Brian Spiteri
April 2010

‘1. Illustrated Magazine of Art’ 1854 editor of in ‘The Pencil’ p.140
2. Winchester, Simon.1998. ‘The Surgeon of Crowthorne’, Penguin, England. p.136

Brian Spiteri 2006 Exhibition
Brian Spiteri 2008 Exhibition
Brian Spiteri 2012 Exhibition