Queer Paper Gardens: paula roush & maria lusitano
curated by Joao Pinharanda
Museu da Electricidade
Lisbon, June 6 – September 8 2013
The current presentation format for the project is a mixed media collage salon, which explores travel and collage as interlinked cultural queer and feminist practices in its relationship to contemporary art. Multilayered visual essays and publications revisit narratives, which combine historical archive and speculative fiction into the study of the modernist collage- novel. The main subjects of these works range from Mary Delany’s invention of botanical collage (Flora Delanica, 1772-1782), to Max Ernst’s collage novel Une Semaine de Bonté (A Week of Goodness, 1934) and Valentine Penrose’ poem-collage Dons des Feminines (Gifts of the Feminine, 1951).
This journey makes visible ways in which collage creates spaces that facilitate experiments with botanical taxonomies as metaphors for gender and sexuality and also a critique of the domestic setting conveyed through escapist dreams and travel to exotic locations.
The relation between collage and micro- or self-publishing is well documented in the history of artists’ books. Two relevant examples of small editions books are part of the exhibition’s material sources: Max Ernst’s A Week of Goodness (1934) and Valentine Penrose’s Dons des Feminines (1951). Both propose new perspectives on the relationship between found material and personal biography, collage and narrative, image and text. Departing from these and looking at early predecessors of the visual book- encountered in the Georgian hortus siccus (herbarium) and the Victorian photo album- the project explores:
– Working with found material: the author as editor with a subjective vision of an archive or collection
– A queer and feminist history of collage that looks at early precursors of collage amongst 18th century landscape female artists, female victorian photo-collage, the surrealist collage novel and contemporary collage approaches
– Visual storytelling when sequencing books: strategies that range from cinematic structure to the travel book.