(Me in my “Work of Art” art shirt at Exquisite Corpse Night)
When I first was starting out in collage I remember reading an article about the concept called, “Exquisite Corpse”, and was fascinated. Andre’ Breton, a Surrealist, and a group of other artists decided to start a parlor game, just for fun, by writing phrases on a piece of paper, concealing part of the phrase, and passing it to the next player so they could add to it. At the end of the round, the sentences were shared and they found great humor and appreciation in the fact that they made little to no sense. It was quite thought provoking to them. Eventually they added the use of graphite and began by drawing a head, then the other players would add body parts, but they never saw the completed image until the very end, adding to it’s “enigmatic, conceptual nature.”
Here is a link, The Exquisite Corpse , to their group with pictures of the first works from The Exquisite Corpse game. There are some interesting passages to read, to understand the insight into Breton’s mind, along with the other Surrealist of that time. I gave this game and concept a good amount of thought after beginning my collage class and chose to try it out with a group of fellow artists that had similar skills, tastes, and senses of humor, because I knew we would all need one. So I, along with Holly Carrigan, Mary Elizabeth Kimbrough, Wayne McNeil, McLeod Turner, Vikki Turner Finch, Lydia Host, and Jami Buck.
Because I wanted to do this game in collage I knew it would take a lot of pieces and preparation, so I asked the other artists to come prepared with a ‘head’ and an idea for a background. I think by the time we all got together we decided the best course of action would be to wing it and so we did. Although, to be true to the original Exquisite Corpse concept, we would have needed to not see the previous piece of work, we opted for randomly swapping each piece per round. Next time we will add the challenge of keeping each round concealed and I look forward to that added challenge.
So, after 5 rounds of swapping, cutting, pasting, painting, eating, and laughing our heads off the final pieces were actually quite wonderful. For me, it really wasn’t the finished piece that proved the event was successful, it was the whole process, especially the sharing and friendship that made the night unforgettable. Here are our finished Exquisite Corpses, dressed in their grandeur! Now that we have begun this adventure I can’t wait to see what our “collective minds” come up with for the next EC! Stay tuned.