Décollage - The critical observation of public space


The décollage is a seismograph of urban change, the relic of an urban idea.

 

Public space is increasingly undergoing a transformation.

How do municipalities regard people? As citizens, as consumers?

 

Who decides what is beautiful? Who has the sovereignity of information - and who determines the public discourse? These are the questions posed by décollage.


My art expands the concept of the affichists from the 50s and 60s

So what are the key differences?

 

1) Interaction with other art movements

2) Expansion of geographical space

3) Dwindling resources (of posters)

4) A stronger focus on the nature of the paper (due to environmental influences and new print techniques the nature of paper has changed)

5) The décollage has become more political

 

Some thoughts on these differences:

Participation in public affairs is shrinking. There is a lack of space. So it is not surprising that artists and activists make their marks.

 

Sprayers and the pixadores (mostly from São Paulo) set examples with their tags and cryptic signs. I am not saying it is always beautiful, but it is an expression of the unheard.

 

Therefore it seems almost logical that sprayers use also billboards. And suddenly there is an - mostly unconscious - interaction of décollage and sprayer.


These interactions did not exist at the time of the new realism. 

 

The affichists' space of action were Paris and Rome (with a few occassional detours to New York). My radius of action is worldwide (mostly southern and eastern Europe). I also include the aspects of urban history, even urban archeology - and entomology :)


Preserving the shrinking universe of décollage

Have you ever noticed that traditional billboards are disappearing from the cityscape? The municipalities sweep it away. They say, a clean city is a safe city. Is it? At the same time littering is increasing.

 

More and more municipalities leave the street to the corporations for street furniture - they replace billboards with city light posters and screenboards. And they determine the public discourse.



From outside to inside

As in previous decades, only a few galleries dare to exhibit décollages.

 

If the décollage reaches the wall of a gallery from the street, it regains its inherent and entitled dignity.

 

What has been ignored or despised as dirt of the street becomes beauty.

 

 

This beauty is hardly able to break through the ignorance of the curatorial clay layer.

 

Curators totally ignore the contemporary décollage and its continuous development and concentrate on the old affichists and the secondary market.

 

My concern is - to speak with Schopenhauer - to clear the fog, to make beauty and realities visible.

 

(exhibition view, Galerie Bovistra, Stuttgart 2019. "Kaiserschmarrn, décollage, 137,5 x 116,0 cm, 2017)

 

(Quote, Arthur Schopenhauer: "Accordingly, every work of art actually strives to show us life and things as they really are, but through the fog of objective and subjective coincidences cannot be directly grasped by everyone. Art takes away this fog.")


The materiality of the paper

What would the universe of décollages be without the fascinating galaxies of papers? Of course, this is a rhetorical question, that should make you want more.

 

On my discovery tours I have encountered more and more different materialities of paper. I will use my own descriptions - no matter if they are common or not.

1) There is an almost velvety paper. The surface is fluffy and flaky.

 

I call it "stardust".

Think of bonito flakes on japanese tuna balls ;)

 

Presumably, it is formed by abrasion. I found it in Perugia, Helsinki and Lisboa.

2) One of the most fascinating paper has the appearance of a tree bark. So far, I have only found these type of paper in København. I call it "bark" or "plates".

 

Of course environmental influences play a role. The main factor is probably the thick and round column (under a highway) on which many layers were posted. Due to the tension in the paper it gradually bursted.

 

Another factor is the spraypaint on some parts. It forms a surface film that becomes hard and brittle over time.

3) "Breaking paper" - it is mostly a solid poster paper that becomes brittle. I suspect that it is due to complete dryness and wind.

 

Sometimes one could name it also "cookie paper".

 

I only found it in the Alentejo region in Portugal.

4) Another fascinating paper is the backside of some posters (the term is "retro d'affiche" or "dessous d'affiche").

 

It often contains spores, particulates and color leakages of over-/underlying layers.

 

You can find it everywhere.

5) I assume that the surface of the paper was covered by glue, that has formed crusts due to intense sunlight and heat.

 

So I name it "crusty paper".

 

In this example you can see that probably the wind has also blown grains of sand in. The place of discovery was Elvas (Portugal).

6) "Sand paper" - very rare, probably produced in the offset printing. Due to the chemical composition of the different colors some dots remain standing. It gives a feeling like that of emery paper.

 

I found it in Peso da Régua (Portugal) and in Umbria (Italy).

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Artistic Act

Much has already been written about the act of tearing down posters in the décollage literature.

 

It is not only a phyical act and sometimes exhausting, but also carried by a joy of discovery.

 

Of course, before it comes to the act of tearing down old posters, I have to discover a location and this often happens on Google Street View.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

source: Google Street View

In contrast to Germany, travelling by rail works in Switzerland.

 

From Genève to Messery it is just 1 hour. Of course I had all my equipment with me.


Décollage as a book cover


"eraser crumbs"

 Poems by Jon Dambacher

 

  ISBN  979-8562968760

 

A Jabber Publication