Slips in the making and seeing
Standing in front of Tom Friedman's impressive and dense paper collage Stuff (2014) at Marciano Art Foundation got me thinking about parapraxis in the process of art making and in the viewing of artwork.
I too make collages of cuts from magazines. Sometimes after the cutting I am taken aback by the content of the pieces that I gather, which become the materials for a particular artwork. Underlying symbols and themes arise, seemingly without intention. This is parapraxis in the process.
Does Friedman also find his unconscious is dictating some of the cuts and accumulations of materials? Do the objects in the piles of cuts have commonalities, reveal proclivities, or indicate secret intentions?
There is also parapraxis in seeing. Friedman's Stuff is a delight to view. From afar it is a landscape of materials. It could be a mountain with a distinct foreground and bit of sunshine poking through the upper right corner. Closer looks reveal the individual cuts of paper, including carefully cut words amongst the endless products. Associations begin to be made between the pieces in close proximity to each other.
In my longer look at Stuff, I was drawn to the bottom middle right edge of the work. I see a bright yellow (happy!) condom, which makes me smile. It's next to a porn advertisement in the same cheery color. Below is a delicious but slightly terrifying-looking meal of jalapeños, salsa and some grilled meat—the stuff of heartburn—all wrapped in a single piece of lettuce, as though that would make the meal healthy. Alongside is an expensive pair of loafers. My mind makes associations between these cuts of paper in the form of desire, pain, precaution, self-deception, and the price of indulgence.
Likely there is parapraxis in my viewing. The narrative I imagine is self-revelatory. Was Friedman's accumulating stack of paper, as he was making the hundreds of cuts for the pieces of the artwork, also a form of parapraxis? Did symbols and stories reveal themselves that were not originally mapped by the artist? Did their eventual groupings in the artwork come as a result of the unconscious motivations of the cuts?
FULL BLEDE Issue Six: The Parapraxis is currently in the works. Submission details here.