The use of found imagery and the manipulation of photographs is not new, Hannah Hoch’s politically motivated collages drew attention in the 1920’s. However recently it is becoming accepted as part of ‘photography’.
A recent example is John Stezaker whose collage work has been nominated for this years Deutsche Börse as well as featuring in Out of Focus the first photographic exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. This exhibition contained the work of several practitioners who all push the boundaries of photographic art.
With Stezaker’s images the physicality is especially interesting, the effect could be easily replicated in Photoshop but he and many other choose to use manual cut and paste techniques. It is the mark of the artist that is important; if you look closely enough at a Steazker you can often see his fingerprints on the images.
Night Wanderers by Kirsten Hoving also consists of found imagery but has a unique physicality due to a unusual medium – ice. In Hoving’s images monochrome photographs are part frozen and often fused with small objects. These collages are then photographed, the only document of a work where a main component changes physical state.
The translucent quality of ice is achieved by partially thawing; just as the work reaches it peak it is already in the process of decay. The whole procedure is reminiscent of a dying star; the night’s sky is a key atheistic and conceptual influence on the work. The circular shape of the images mimic the moon, the crescent shaped reflections creating its curvature, the deep black surround suggesting the night’s sky whilst air bubbles in the ice speak of stars. The main influence for the work was artist Joseph Cornell and his love of astrology Hoving states:
His working method encouraged me to take risks, to experiment, and to be willing to destroy one object to create another.
The use of vintage imagery is increasingly popular in commercial applications such as comic gift cards. This can make it hard for artists work to impact beyond the aesthetic, however Hoving succeeds, her use is to remind the viewer that visible star light is in fact old light, the encasing ice underscores the elegance and fragility of our place in the universe.
No doubt Hoving’s future work will be equally as experimental:
Although my work is quite varied, the constants across these portfolios are my interest in surreal, dream-like imagery, my search for telling moments and gestures, and my desire to push photography beyond recording and into expression.