Exercise 4.5 Photomontage

25th May 2020

For exercise 4.5 we were asked to construct a photomontage from images taken from old magazines and/ or newspapers. Unfortunately for me the magazines I purchase are not the type to be cut up but kept, such magazines as Creative Review, Juxtapoz and Black and white Photography. With this in mind I used postcards as well as my own photographs.

Pissed off Jesus

I knew that I wanted to use part of my Jesus photograph in my composition so I cut him out first. While I was cutting out the image of Jesus, I was thinking about the type of background I could place him on and whether I wanted it to be a conceptual piece of work or an image which was formed from random images.

Working through possible backgrounds to place Jesus on, I decided to go for a close up image of a tree trunk which was full of texture. The tree trunk represented the wood on which Jesus was crucified. There is still some uncertainty to whether Jesus was crucified on a tree or a cross. Apostle Peter for example says in his teachings that Jesus was crucified on a tree. The word “cross” in the New Testament comes from the Greek word stauros the origin of which means stake or pole, in other words the wood that the Romans used would be in any size or shape. In fact the Bible does not mention the shape of Jesus’s crucifix means it was actually made popular by artists and writers through the ages.

People have had actually misinterpreted the word ‘stauros’ and there is not actually such a punishment as a ‘crucifixion,’ mentioned in any ancient texts which includes the Gospels in the Bible. Another interesting fact is that the Romans were amazing at keeping detailed records of their lives but no where is their an explanation about how they executed people.

I use to go to Christian church and house group meetings many years ago but I was always asking questions and researching more. They were not overly happy about this because there was so many contradictions and questions that were answered with the lame reply, ‘You have to have faith.’ In other words there was not a factual answer but large slices of ‘maybe’ and ‘faith.’

I therefore used a close up and the wonderful textural lines of the tree trunk to symbolise the probable fact that there was some type of tree wood involved in Jesus death.

From here I looked through some of my art postcards. I didn’t get to far in my collection before I came across Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ (1917).

Both Jesus and Duchamp changed the world, they changed what people believed and thought. Jesus and salvation, Duchamp and the art world. However its wasn’t an intellectual reason I chose the ‘Fountain’ it was actually a flippant reaction to my time within Christianity. I was ‘taking the piss,’ and named the image ‘Pissed off Jesus,’ I mean he did so much good in his life just to be murdered for it, I would be pissed off, wouldn’t you?

Postcard images

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Au Salon de la rue des Moulins 1894
image from wikiart.org

I chose to cut out the provocative Mireille from Toulouse-Lautrec’s painting, ‘Au Salon de la rue des Moulins’ (1894), which is the girl at the front in the painting who is one of the prostitutes from the Rue d’Aboise brothel. I placed her on Jesus arm like a shoulder devil which is depicted in illustrations and cartoons which represents temptation. She is trying to seduce Jesus and tempt him still in his last hours.

Edgar Degas, Au Cafe-concert: La Chanson du Chien 1875-1877
image from Wikipedia

The above painting is of Thérésa Valdon singing ‘The Song of the Dog’ which was painted by Edgas Degas in 1875-1877. I chose this figure for my work because it has so many harsh criticisms due to where it was painted, who the main subject is and the vulgar song that she was singing. I thought it fitted in with the prostitute theme and the fact that the clientele that were supposed to frequent these cafes were a particular class of ‘pleasure seekers.’

Valdon like the shoulder prostitute is trying to tempt and seduce Jesus. However she is singing to him and trying to arouse him with words like a Greek mythical Siren.

The last image I had already cut out and had found in the postcard box. I cannot remember the title of the work or the artist but it reminds me of a portrait of Kate Moss by Lucian Freud. It would be quite apt if this figure is painted by Freud because his father was Jewish and because of his love of sex.

This image was used because for me it reminds me of the crucifixion due to the pose and it also symbolises vulnerability. Vulnerability of those captured and crucified, vulnerability of the naked flesh, vulnerability of women as sex workers. This is why the figure has been situated with her arm around the hole in the tree, symbolic of protecting a woman’s vulva and the vagina entrance.

I decided not to glue each individual piece to the background because I wanted more of a three-dimensional feel to the image. I gained this effect due to the fact that each cutting is only laid on top of the background and therefore the light is used to help throw a shadow beneath parts of the cut outs.

I enjoyed putting this photomontage together around the theme of prostitutes, women and Jesus. It was one of those discussions that you can read about when researching the probable world of Jesus, or not.

The only difficulty I found with this exercise was the technical side again. Each of the parts of the work were glossy, and all different shines of glossy as well. The surfaces reflected the light from every which way and also when photographed and processed there is a sheen of light over the completed image. I will have to research photographing different materials as this could be a problem in the future.

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