Monday, November 23, 2009

Exquisite Corpse

Untitled/Untitled/ Rooted, 2009, by artists: Agnes Debethune (Jersey City), Alaine Becker (South Orange), and Leah K. Tomaino (Randolph) Graphite, collage, watercolor, chalk, pastel crayon, fiber, acrylic paint on paper Courtesy of the artists and the Paul Robeson Galleries, Rutgers University

I cannot wait to see this exhibit at the Paul Robeson Gallery. If you’re not familiar with the term, Exquisite Corpse, here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

"The technique was invented by Surrealists and is similar to an old parlour game called Consequences in which players write in turn on a sheet of paper, fold it to conceal part of the writing, and then pass it to the next player for a further contribution. Surrealism principal founder André Breton reported that it started in fun, but became playful and eventually enriching. In a variant now known as picture consequences, instead of sentences, portions of a person were drawn.

Later the game was adapted to drawing and collage, producing a result similar to children’s books in which the pages were cut into thirds, the top third pages showing the head of a person or animal, the middle third the torso, and the bottom third the legs, with children having the ability to 'mix and match' by turning pages. It has also been played by mailing a drawing or collage — in progressive stages of completion — to the players, and this variation is known as 'exquisite corpse by airmail', apparently regardless of whether the game travels by airmail or not.

The name is derived from a phrase that resulted when Surrealists first played the game, 'Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau.' ('The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine.')"

For this exhibit, 92 local artists were invited to play the game by mail, like a chain letter. The starting point was a 30-by-22 inch sheet of paper folded in thirds. One artist did the top, another the middle and the last did the bottom third. Little marks left at the crease of the paper told the next artist where his or her predecessor had left off. The artists had 2 weeks to complete their sections and none of them saw the finished product until the show opened last Thursday.

I can't wait to see what they did.

And I want to play the game, don't you??


kristen said...

I have to tell you about my own experience with exquisite's an amazing way to collaborate..

kristen said...
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