Carl Plate Collage in SNO 109 – Photography, Nov 8 – Dec 10, 2014
Sydney Non Objective Contemporary Art Projects · Marrickville
Carl Plate 'Greek Shadows' collage 1975
Photography - a long awaited SNO exhibition project which explored the boundaries of what might be considered abstraction in photography. The six artists use a variety of conceptual approaches to the medium outside the traditional idea of taking photographs. The exhibition looked at the complex notion of why photography is or isn't abstraction.
‘Photography’ includes ten collages by Carl Plate
Carl Plate’s collages were a well-kept secret during his lifetime. His earliest collages (1938-1946) used photo media cut-ups to create ways of seeing that inverted expectations. He adopted collage, combining ‘found’ photography with mixed media – crayon, paint, ink, – as a means to liberate his creation of form and movement from reference to objective or ‘seen’ reality. He created what he called his collage ‘maquettes’, acknowledging their three-dimensionality, throughout the late 1950s until the early 1970s, as his work embraced non-figuration, developing from his earlier abstraction in the previous decade. By 1974, he was experimenting with what he called his ‘multi-strip’ work, each collage taking over a week to construct, using multiple copies of the same source. Plate developed a unique method of first constructing an abstract collage, in the process, removing the photographed subjects from their referents. He would then make three identical versions, using three copies of source materials – magazines, travel brochures etc. These he would then slice to create a doubly ‘de-figured’ image, twice removed from its reference to the objective world. These ‘multi-strip’ collages move across time and space, prefiguring work made possible by video technologies of later decades.
Plate remained committed throughout his life to the idea of making visible the non-visible. His work drew this response by A. D. S. Donaldson: ‘…we have a feeling of pleasure engendered by Plate’s ability at once to disorient us, to take us away from the source of the image, and to return us happily to a new place, a new world even; Plate’s world. Any original image has become unrecognizable, and in this work Plate recombined and reoriented his sources and evinced a fantastic post-pop new image order.’ (ADS Donaldson, ‘The Visible Coming to the Aid of the Non-Visible: the Collage of Carl Plate’, Carl Plate Collage 1938-1976, ed. Cassi Plate, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, 2009, p. 67)