MAKING THE WORK // WHAT IS IT?
It doesn’t feel quite right to call what I’m writing a novel. In part, because it’s a novel-from-life. Some folks might call that creative non-fiction, but it’s more fictionalized than the term implies. I sometimes quote W.G. Sebald: “My medium is prose, not the novel.”
But it gets even more complicated than having the issue with genre hybrid. My writing project also contains several different forms: mini-essays, personal essays, transcripts, emails, etc. Open-form novel is the new term I’ve been floating, though it doesn’t quite do it either. That term sounds so experimental, which I fear is often a synonym for “unreadable” and I like (and am trying to achieve) cogent narrative.
Last week I started wondering if the term collage fit my non-conventional transitions and imposed connections. Partially because I was looking at my friend Betty-Ann’s collages and something synaptic happened. Was there something I could learn/borrow from collage? Then A. pointed out that you can’t make a true collage without reappropriation (à la David Shields’ Reality Hunger).
I want a definition so badly. Not for the individual parts, but for the thing as a whole—to know what kind of container I’m writing into and what its rules are. I’m not after categorization for categorization’s sake. The work will be the work without it. But what I want is a reference point—something that I can look up to see what I’m doing and how others are doing it. I might not ever find an exact, all-encompassing term like “novel”.
So for now I’m stuck with a farrago (a confused mixture), but hopefully I’m still moving toward something that might one day be called a book.
INTERVIEWS // B.A. LAMPMAN
B.A. Lampman lives and works in Victoria, BC. She collages, paints, pours ink across paper, takes photos, reads, makes websites, and blogs. She’s also in The Golden Country Clan band with her daughter and husband David P. Smith, as well as some other fine folks. (Side note: Someone should really do a documentary about the whole famdamily—they’re special material.)
Recently, The Jealous Curator, who B.A. describes as “the Oprah of the contemporary art blogosphere,” featured some of B.A.’s collage works on her site. I’ve always been interested in B.A’s work and wanted to feature her here too—so, ta-da!
If you were the lovechild of two famous people, who would they be?
My first thought: Joni Mitchell and Groucho Marx. My husband’s first thought: Prince and Shary Boyle. I’m flattered, but I can’t really agree with his (whereas mine makes perfect sense).
Collage is fun. You get carried away by chance and whimsy—there’s no place for brooding or worrying over every mark you make. Oh, did I imply that I would ever worry over every mark I make? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! I majored in painting at Concordia University, and I always think about returning to it, but it’s still thorny for me—not least because I don’t do it often enough! Collage is seductive in that there is less agonizing involved.
Can you talk a little bit about making your work?
When I first started doing collages I would combine elements that made me laugh, but that has changed over time. My cache of materials has grown over the years, and what's at hand definitely informs what comes out. I rarely think about the end result I’m going for (therein lies the joy)—in choosing the elements for each collage I am guided by caprice, but also by colour, composition, and over-all design.
Looking at your works at The Jealous Curator they all have “ghostly white-lined girls” and are these eerie portraits. For example, the second one with the horse [see image in header] shares one set of eyes for three different faces. Can you talk about these works?
Many find this series creepy. I don't set out to be creepy, nor do I set out to impart anything in particular... the work is “anti-intellectual”, if you will. I just go with things I like... faces, colour, pattern, etc. But these works are rife with potential for interpretation. Persona, layers of the self, humans as animals, dreams, ghosts, gender identity, cubism, you name it. Have at ’er!
Thoughts on self-help collages/vision boards?
I can see it being both transformative and galvanizing for people (artist or not) to look for images that speak to them, then create something that is imbued with personal significance, almost like a totem or religious icon.
Want more B.A.? View her portfolio in all its glory at her website. There are also photos of her studio (I love photos of artists' work spaces) on her blog where she, among other things, talks more about that wonderful thing called caprice.
LISTS // SELF-HELP COLLAGE ASSIGNMENTS
1 // Create a collage using only images of fluffy things with big eyes. Hang for later use. When serotonin levels start to fall, sit on a soft, chubby pillow and meditate on the collage.
2 // Draw a line down the centre of your canvas. On one side, create a collage that represents you now. On the other side, create a collage that represents the you you’d like to be. Make both sides exactly the same. This is because you are perfect just the way you are.
3 // Make an epic collage called “Dare to Dream,” Glue down all those big, beautiful dreams. Get it all out of your system.
When you’re done, rip it up/ burn it/ line the litter box with it/ whatever, just get rid of it. You’ll hate doing this because you’ll have Martha Stewarted the shit out of that collage. Or you’ll be relieved because your collage wasn’t perfect enough and you’d already thrown your glue stick across the room twice. Either way, do it—dump it. And don’t be superstitious or ceremonial about it. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that your dreams are garbage or broken.
So what’s the point? The point is that sometimes dreamers need a little help to, well, stop dreaming and start acting. You know what you want out of this life, now go get ‘em, Tiger.