lance aram rothstein
I use things like old, cheesy record covers, post cards, magazines and trashy paperback book covers as a starting point for my hand-cut and paste collages. I then use only objects found on the ground, in the trash, junk mail or recycling bin to create a unique mélange of imagery and text. Often humorous, sometimes political, always original. Occasionally I will even incorporate my own Polaroid photographs into the pieces which are then most often left out in public as street art for everyone to enjoy (or destroy.) I have also started mailing out some small pieces.
I’m not sure what led me to start collage work. I’d been exposed to the work of artists like Georges Braque and Kurt Schwitters at art school and via my obsession with all things avant-garde, but, being immersed in photography, I didn’t actually get out the scissors and paste until May 2010. I started with old trashy record-covers from a flea market and some even older magazines I’d found by the side of the road on recycling day. I mixed in some clippings from the endless supply of junk-mail delivered directly to my mail box daily, and violà – I was addicted to collage. So far I have numbered each “Relationship” with a successive roman numeral. For the first 12 collages I just signed my monogram initials “LAR” in the corner of each piece. At the time, I hadn’t even heard of Ray Johnson.
As planned, I added this newfound form of expression to my caboodle of street art projects by posting my first two collages out on the streets of Paris. Coincidentally there was an exhibition of work by Iclandic collage artist Erró showing at the Centré Pompidou that same week and it was very inspiring.
Since then I have made dozens of collages, mostly on record covers but I’m also now using other media such as paperback book covers, old postcards, magazines, posters etc… For my street art works I often compose a collage in the city where it is displayed – collecting bits and pieces of trash from the street during my visit, so that each work is slightly “indigenous” to the place it is left, using the local language and symbology.
My record cover collages are ONLY left out on the street as public art for anyone to enjoy (or destroy), so that’s the only place to see one (aside from my portfolio) unless it was taken down by someone. Unlike some other street artists, I don’t mind when my pieces are taken down, especially if they are taken by someone who appreciates it as art, (see also: my picturecrossing project.) Sometimes my work stays up for a while but other times it is gone within hours of being posted. I try not to stick around to see what happens to it.
My post card collages are made only as Mail Art and sent for free to friends, acquaintances and random other people around the world. I started doing this after watching the enlightening film “How to Draw a Bunny” about the artist Ray Johnson. And soon after that I found an old customizable rubber stamp set and began stamping my pieces “Ray Johnson Fan Club – L.A.R.” as an homage to the brilliant artist. Johnson often made similar stamps with the names of people he was writing to (or about) such as “Claude Picasso Fan Club.”
My other works are made using a variety of material such as subway posters or magazine covers. I especially like working with old detective, romance, horror and sci-fi book covers from the 1960s. These are currently the only works I’m making available for exhibition or purchase.
I recently found this quote from “outsider” artist Howard Finster which, I feel, sums up my collage work nicely:
“I TOOK THE PIECES YOU
THREW AWAY AND PUT THEM
TOGATHER BY NIGHT AND DAY
WASHED BY RAIN DRIED BY SUN
A MILLION PIECES ALL IN ONE.”