Project 2: Exercise 2 ~ Re-contextualising images

Researching artists who worked with photo-montage or collage:

I’ve previously researched work by artists John Heartfield and Peter Kennard in my Graphic Design module so I know I need to research other artists for this exercise. So I’ve looked into the work of Hannah Hoch and Martha Rosler.

Hannah Hoch:

Firstly let me start by saying how difficult it is to find images of Hoch’s work on-line. I’ve found it hard to find original works rather than imitation or work inspired by her work. I found some initial articles explaining Hannah Hoch’s work as connected to or part of the Dada, anti-art movement emerging from Germany following the first world war. Hannah Hoch was a German artist [1889-1978], whose work often featured montages of images, cut or collected from magazines, newspapers, posters. Her work often sought to promote women, and to give notion to the ideal of feminism and shifting attitudes towards the roles of women within society from the 1920s onwards.

I read an interesting article in the Telegraph written by Mark Hudson, around the same time as the Whitechapel Gallery presented the first major UK exhibition of the artists work. I found a link to Daniel Herman one of the curators of the exhibition discussing the exhibition with examples of work in a YouTube video:

He describes her work as abstract, concerned with challenging notions of beauty and addressing the fragmentation of society through the use of fragmented pieces of imagery (collage).

In another clip, this time from the MoMA online resources, a piece by Hannah Hoch is discussed:

There are a limited number of images of Hoch’s work here on the MoMA site. Unfortunately I cannot reproduced any of the images here for copyright reasons. Another website called The Weird Show – a concern on collage and beyond posted some examples of her work, but didn’t identify any names, dates or information with the pieces.

Martha Rosler:

Is an female artist born in America in 1943. Her work takes many forms; video, photography, text, installation. Theme’s within her work include exploring everyday life, feminism, the link between war and home, national security and climate change. Most of her work is created for public display or for use in public forums. Like Hoch she uses photomontage and collage to challenge stereotypes and society, often juxtaposing images of home life/domesticity with imagery of war or chaos or decay. This is particularly apparent in her series House Beautiful:Bringing the War Home. A series which she revisited in 2004-2008 around the years of the Iraq War.

Balloons 1967-1972 Martha Rosler.

Balloons 1967-1972 Martha Rosler.

Beauty Rest 1967-1972 Martha Rosler.

Beauty Rest 1967-1972 Martha Rosler.









Photo op, 2004 by Martha Rosler.

Photo op, 2004 by Martha Rosler.

Unlike Hoch’s collages Rosler’s work is much cleaner in terms of arrangement. The work appears less fragmented and I think this aids her concept of brining the war home. It is still clear the two different kinds of imagery jar and conflict with each other but there is an odd sense of the two meshing together in her work.

Further examples of Rosler’s work can be seen at the MoMA artists page.



Re-contextualising a current news story: The Panama Tax Havens Leak

The big story of the past few days has been a massive information/data leak of details from Mossack Fonseca which enables clients to launder money and avoid tax. Many names have emerged in the documents, among whom Russian leader Vladimir Putin and more recently links to David Cameron’s family through assets belonging to his late father. Unsurprisingly Downing Street say this is a private matter. I decided to take this ironic twist in events and pull out David Cameron and Vladimir Putin, supposedly opposites in morals and ideologies together in a image depicting panama.  This is obviously me stretching things and being a bit tongue in cheek!

I found some images an image of David Cameron with his hands up – in a pose that suggests ‘I’m not involved in this’ and a photo of Vladimir Putin winking – to signify perhaps wry involvement and making fun of Cameron’s involvement. I then stuck these images onto bikini clad or beach clad women to fit with the Panama beach setting. I found a background from a fashion magazine of a coastal region (I think Cannes to be precise) and used this as a back drop. I then found a rather comedy looking set of bags with dollar signs on to represent stole or perhaps illicitly kept cash. I then combined these images in a black and white arrangement using Photoshop:

Panama Collage Non text

The image on the left is the non text version of the collage. I decided to keep all the elements black and white using Photoshop because the real colours of the cut out images were too broad a mix of colours. The colours didn’t sit well together. I noticed that in most of Hannah Hoch or Rosler’s design a limited colour palette helped the elements sit side by side without too much competition for attention.




Panama Collage

The image on the right is a version of the collage with text. I added the text to help the viewer understand the context for all the elements. Perhaps the need to add text reveals my choice of imagery wasn’t effective enough. I’m not 100% sure either way. I find text often helps set a visual in it’s correct place. Personally I think the image needs the text because without colour it may not be initially clear to the viewer that the flag in the background is the Panama flag. Adding in the name of the country to the slogan helps make it clear what is being made reference to – at least I think it helps make it clearer.


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