Monday, 10 March 2008
Re-learning from the Exquisite Corpse
Exquisite corpse (also known as "exquisite cadaver" or "rotating corpse") is a method by which a collection of words or images are collectively assembled, the result known as the exquisite corpse or cadavre exquis in French. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule (e.g. "The adjective noun + adverb + verb + the adjective noun") or by being allowed to see the end of what the previous person contributed.
The technique was invented by Surrealists in 1925, 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.
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. Above is a pictorial example produced by the Chapman brothers simply entitled "Exquisite corpse II" Image courtesy of the Edinburgh Printmaker's Gallery
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", or "mail art," depending on whether the game travels by airmail or not.
For the following project Sylvia and Sinead worked with a team of artists and writers to investigate a new paradigm of delivering the exquisite corpse process.
What if the main visual and textual straplines from well known advertisemens were removed? What if artists and writers were left to fill this frame or discard part of the image. What would these artists and writers put back into the image frame?
With this objective in mind the writer- artist team were given random pictures and miscellaneous photocopied texts from the like of manuals to consumer catalogues to collage back into the pictures.
The subsequent work explores the intersections between found pictorial and linguistic frameworks. Each team member must problem solve how to subvert or re-assert a voice into the scene. The new works demonstrate to viewers in a world saturated with commercial and iconic references how content can be generated to challenge, overwrite and combine with other forms. A dynamic and evolving world of knowledge and human experiences can be related through found and discarded forms.
Project leaders Sylvia and Sinead will approach the theme of 'found art' practice from different perspectives. Our core team of over 20 artists and writers will be in dialogue with respondents from around the globe to give a 360° view of how new conceptual linguistic strategies can be inspired.
To conclude the term 'exquisite corpse' is derived from a Surrealist phrase, "Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau. ( The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine.)" Likewise we hope you will take time to raise a glass and enjoy a small sip of what we have prepared for your consumption and comment. With our best - yours Sylvia Grace Borda and Sinead Morrissey