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A short interview with... Jakob Kolding

Summeracademy: Why collage as a technique?


Jakob Kolding: To me collage is a way of working with images that in a very immediate sense shows how meaning is constructed, and at the same time, how it can be challenged. You take an image of one thing and put it into a new context or combine with other elements and everything changes. It’s a very direct way of appropriating the surrounding world and in that sense it is also a way of looking at the construction of meaning in and through the images that surround us in our daily life. That may be the one aspect of collage that is the most important to me. It is a way to investigate and re-work the world around us, the things we take for granted and the things we don’t. To look at how the power to define us, both individually and as societies, is represented through images and language and can potentially be de-stabilised and re-defined, by taking the images that form the world around us and try and make them our own. Such subjective interpretations, and all the associative narratives that they potentially open up, points to explorations of identity as created in a continuous dialogue between the given surroundings and individual action.

Another aspect of collage that I find it important to mention is that you don’t really need any technical skills to get started. Of course, as you go along, you always learn, but at it’s most basic everyone can cut and paste. With scissors and glue, or with only a minimum of skill, on a computer too. The focus can be on the images and their meaning and less on the technical skills. 

[Jakob Kolding, Inspired by nature, collage on paper, courtesy Galerie Martin Janda]

S: What is your preferred material to work with and why?


J: My own starting point was the traditional collage of paper, scissors and glue and while that is still something very important to me, I am now working with what I would still call collage as method, but which would perhaps not always be immediately defined as such. For instance my work has gradually developed towards installation and sculpture and I’ve recently made a stage design for an opera. A lot of these works, as well as many posters and large scale prints of mine are made on a computer, in Photoshop, and then produced in a variety of ways, a variety of materials, in a variety of contexts.

Many recent works also include found objects rather than images of those objects and some of these works are in a material sense quite different from the traditional collages but they are still, at least to me, in essence collages. They are still made from found images, or found objects, that are re-contextualized into new configurations. They are often spatial works, where the space itself and the people in that space become a crucial part of the work. In the stage design time also became a crucial element as it gave me the opportunity to make a work that develops in front of the viewer, along with the music and the performance. It started with an empty stage and was then gradually built by the performers.
All this to say that I don’t have a preferred material as such, but in a more general sense I would say that my preferred materials are images. Which as a visual artist admittedly may not be so surprising. I have gradually over the years build up an archive of mages from many different contexts and situations, but what they have in common is that they are images I have come across in pursuing my general interests, and interests coming out of specific projects and exhibitions I’ve been working on. If you looked through them all they would in a sense form a, rather kaleidoscopic, portrait of me, or you could say that I have gradually build up a personal vocabular.

[Studio detail, Jakob Kolding]

S: What are you going to teach your students?

J: I hope that we during the course of the workshop can look at and discuss how images form the world around us and explore ways of using those images. To get a heightened sense of how meaning, and power, is created, how it can be challenged, changed, re-made. How we construct our own worlds, our own identities. I think it’s important that this happens both individually and collectively, that everyone define their own interests, and use them to form their work, bring their own images to start from, but that we at the same time discuss our works and considerations with each other. I would like to look at collage in what I before called an expanded sense, so that beside the cutting and pasting of images by hand, or by computer, we also consider the context we are working in. That could for instance be social media where images are constantly being posted and re-posted and thereby change their meaning, but it could also very well be the public space of the city. How by placing a new object or image in an existing space we potentially influence the “image”, and maybe even use, of that space. 

And I feel I should say, although I hope that is obvious, that I also hope that we come to experience the joy of making new work, this re-working of the world and the attempts to define our own views.

23/03/18 15:11 Summer Academy 2018
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