The first New Zealand exhibition from award-winning British artist John Stezaker opens at City Gallery Wellington in late August. Known for his distinctive, often deceptively simple collages, Stezaker has been working since the 1970s, but only recently gained major recognition. In 2011, he had a retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, and, in 2012, he won the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize, even though he does not take photographs.
Lost World includes 40 collages, five sculptures and a video, Crowd, which presents hundreds of populous film stills, twenty-four per second, in a bewildering blur.
Stezaker says collage is about stuff that has ‘lost its immediate relationship with the world’ and ‘involves a yearning for a lost world’. His collages feature obsolete images: antiquated film stills, actor and actress head shots and vintage postcards.
In this time of Photoshop, which makes melding images a breeze, Stezaker prefers to make collages the traditional way, working with his source images as he finds them, exploiting the ways they fit and don’t fit together.
The Guardian called Stezaker the ‘master of slicing and splicing’. He explores a repertoire of collage techniques. He places postcards on head shots, creating surreal fusions of landscape and face. He grafts head shots to create new gender-and-genre-blending characters. He crops or cuts holes in images to reorient their dramas and reroute their meanings.
‘There is something very odd, even unnerving about cutting through a photograph’, Stezaker says. ‘It sometimes feels like I am cutting through flesh.’
City Gallery Chief Curator Robert Leonard says, ‘Stezaker’s work is nostalgic. His images hail from a pre-feminist age, when men were men and women were women, when gender was more defined and constrained—especially in the movies. Stezaker seems to both revel in and disrupt stereotypes, making them dance to his own tune.’
The accompanying exhibition catalogue features essays by curator Robert Leonard and Geoffrey Batchen, and an interview with the artist by British critic David Campany.
Lost World will travel to Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, 9 December 2017–4 March 2018; Christchurch Art Gallery, 23 March–22 July 2018; Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, 21 September—4 November 2018.
John Stezaker is represented by The Approach, London.
John Stezaker Lectures
Auckland, 17 August, 6:30pm, Starkwhite
Christchurch, 22 August, 6pm, Christchurch Art Gallery
Wellington, 26 August, 2pm, City Gallery Wellington
John Stezaker: Lost World, 26 August–19 November 2017
City Gallery Wellington, Free entry
For all media enquiries, contact Olivia Lacey, 021 022 40312, Olivial@experiencewellington.org.nz