The Weird Show 2020: How we got here and where we’re going.
After a year-long hiatus, The Weird Show is back, and we feel it’s time to explain what led us here and how things changed from our beginnings to nowadays. Not too long, not too nostalgic, but reviewing some of the things that made us what we are today.
When we started TWS in 2010 collage was already resurfacing. After having been one of the most relevant art forms of the 20th century, collage has been downplayed by other movements and trends in the art world until in the late 90s few artists started working from the margins with this medium. By 2010 (until today) we were highly influenced by the work of James Gallagher (both as artist and as curator) and wanted to help showcasing great art made with collage. We were eager to enter the conversation and this was a great way of doing it. That was how TWS was born.
After a couple of years collage boomed and became some kind of unstoppable force that flooded internet with tons of people everywhere cutting and pasting like maniacs. That was the time where collage “collectives” started popping up all over the world. Some made great work creating groundbreaking artworks and curating solid exhibitions; others had lots of fun hosting sport-like events such as marathons and collage combats; and others started learning the craft of this art form while having tea with cookies with friends. This phenomenon gave collage a massive notoriety, even though our feeling at that time was that quantity of collage available was overwhelming, but quality was not very promising.
At that moment, we felt TWS had to say something about it and take sides in the conversation regarding what collage is and how might develop into something fresh and exciting. We raised our voice as much as we could (not much really) and tried to make everyone aware that collage is not a style, but a way of working with ideas, no matter which the source material was. We tried to detach the words retro, vintage and old from the notion of collage. We whined against National Geographic, Life and Paris Match. We tried to make artists (and collage aficionados) wonder what makes collage an art form and what can turn collage into just a fad.
We tried to deliver this message in many ways, but I guess it was a lost cause from the beginning. This issues we were addressing were just not relevant for the different groups involved: The “art world” was not thinking about collage as much as we did; the artists working with collage were confident in their artworks, no matter what the rest of the world was doing with their scissors, and, finally, the “newcomers” just wanted to feel they belonged to a global movement and just wanted to feel the sheer enjoyment of making art and sharing it on internet. Soon we discovered that we were ranting to no one about things that (almost) nobody really cared about.
After finally recognizing that we were investing too much energy in the wrong place, we just kept on putting up exhibitions and showcasing artists creating exciting art. We also started paying attention to what was made in other fields (sound, illustration, sculpture, etc.). And kept on trying to make our network of friends and artists tighter proposing new ways of opening the dialogue and discussion in new ways (our Gatherings had been a great experience in this sense).
In 2018, just after our first exhibition in London (our 15th since our debut show in Madrid in 2011), we needed a break… and we took it. This was great time to think about what has been done and what needed to change. And after this hiatus and all the thinking, we arrived to the conclusion that TWS’s focus still is the same that we defined back in our early days: understanding, developing and showcasing contemporary collage, helping modeling the future of collage as a relevant cultural artifact.
So now, in this comeback, we’re here to gather everyone who’s interested in what’s next, new or different related to this medium. Everyone with dissident voices and suspicious thoughts. Weirdos with challenging visions of what collage is and might be. We’re interested, as Charles Wilkin once told us, in people who raise more questions than answers. We like to open discussions rather than lecture with solid truths. We’d like to test collage’s limits. We’d like to make collage a medium to interact with our social and cultural landscape. We’d like collage to channel critique and social comment. We want to remove all the nostalgia from collage and swap it for freshness and agitation.
We’re excited and full of ideas and uncertainties. Thanks for supporting and being there! Hope to read / talk / meet you in all the things we’ll be doing this year.