Collage Art

Cut paper collage by Erik Farseth © 2017


The subtle manipulations of the infotainment industry may seem obvious in retrospect, but in their moment, the most effective forms of propaganda are nearly invisible.

Inspired by Cold War-era ad campaigns, my paper collage uses the cultural detritus of the fading “American Century” to critique contemporary consumer culture, the ongoing wars in the Middle East, and the rise of the U.S. surveillance state.

These abstract collage “paintings” evoke a candy-coated version of American myth-making – myths then torn apart (literally) to create new meanings. The brilliant colors of the “Swinging Sixties” are juxtaposed against monochromatic iconography of the war machine; black-and-white apocalyptic landscapes that bleed into a hallucinatory palette of absurdist subvertisements; a breadcrumb trail leading back to the precursors of today’s cracked images of American exceptionalism.

Created against the backdrop of a nation that seems to be tearing itself apart, my collage art channels that same feeling of global insecurity into topsy-turvy landscapes, baroque machine art, fragmented fairy tales, and nightmare visions of a world gone awry.

Wielding a pair of scissors in lieu of a paintbrush, new hybridized images are gradually built up from dozens of cut-paper fragments, arranged and rearranged, layer-upon-layer, to create repeating patterns of texture and color.

By freely sampling and remixing old advertisements, these fractured photographs have been deliberately stripped of their original context so as to reveal their “true” meaning. The resulting photomontages are a meditation on the use of visual communication as a form of social conditioning and social control.


VIDEO: Assembling a handmade collage, using cut paper and glue sticks (time lapse)