People always have cut out old things and pasted them together to make new things, but when the modern artists of the early 20th century sliced and diced printed pictures and reassembled them into new images called “collages,” they knew they were on to something. They were adapting visual art to a time when traditional lifestyles were being disrupted by technological and economic changes. In that sense, collages anticipated the disruptive way digital manipulation has widened the gulf between seeing and believing.
In this Revolutionary Paths expo at Antenna Gallery, curator Ric Kasini Kadour showcases how collages also can reshuffle the puzzle pieces of the world in poetic new ways that shed light on the widely held, yet often confounding, sensibilities that diverse peoples share.
Stephen Schaub's wall-length photo-panorama Stop offers crazy-quilt views of Chartres Street while artfully evoking the random stream-of-consciousness way we now see the world around us in this age of mass distraction. Nonney Oddlokken's Blood Moon Offering on Bayou Deja Vu also is panoramic, but here a swamp priestess presides over colorful thread on paper renditions of cypress trees, pitcher plants and luna moths that reveal unexpected parallels between Voodoo and the digital world. Michael Pajon's Bird Brain cutaway view of a human head harks to antique medical diagrams, but swamp birds cavorting where the brain should be suggests human behavior may reflect instincts that are more primal than rational. Paul Dean's Electrum, or The Curse of Living in Interesting Times reflects humanity's eternal dreams of empire and glory in a seamless mash-up of manic architectural monumentalism over the ages.
Such structures can barricade people from their inner selves as well as from each other, but Alex Hood's A La Orden de la Reina (pictured) view of a Nubian princess emerging from a vortex in space-time suggests that imagination may be a kind of quantum solvent that can penetrate barriers that had once appeared unassailable. Historically, visual art has anticipated shifts in perception, and seeing the world around us as a massive collage may help break down our inner walls while extending the mental boundaries of the possible.
Through Aug. 5. Antenna Gallery, 3718 St. Claude Ave., (504) 298-3161; www.antenna.works.