“1943” – Collage Series

During the Pandemic, my friend and collector, Josh “Doggy” Norman, gave me a stack of old LIFE Magazines all from the year 1943. Of course, in ’43 the world was plunged into the depths of WWII – the Germans surrendered at Stalingrad, The Japanese defeated at Guadalcanal, and, in the Fall of ’43, after the resignation of Mussolini, Italy made a truce with the Allied Forces.
Even as the war seemed to turn in America’s favor, at home, and certainly in the pages of LIFE Magazine, nothing was certain. It is strange to view this era through the looking glass of its advertising because the advertisers, whose stock and trade is illusion, swing fervently between efforts at buoying up an All-American status quo that is faltering*, propagandizing against the enemy, and rallying the citizenry – especially the women whose men were fighting overseas – to patriotism and sacrifice. It is difficult for me not to feel a poignant empathy for this time, the generation of my grandparents, and the period in which my own parents were born. Despite all the many momentous things that have happened since then – atomic power, space travel, political and cultural revolutions, computers and the internet – 1943 is not a year from the distant past. Not only are the cultural values expressed in these images still relevant, but the entire world continues to feel the consequences – good and bad – from this momentous period.
Yet, in making these collages I have not sought to make a statement of any kind. Rather, I just sought to playfully re-combine the imagery of the period into new configurations that evoke the dream of the collective consciousness (or “unconsciousness” – if you will) of America. Nor did I create the images to be static finished pieces, rather the images are what I would call “instances” of imagery as though they were just stills of a film (or perhaps keyframes of an animation). For this reason the work remains “Work in Progress”, or as my hero, machine artist, Jean Tinguely, would put it: “Remains static in motion”.

*Has the American “Status Quo” ever actually existed?

1943 Print of the Month Club Series

The 1943 Collage series is being offered in monthly installments as part of my Patreon Print of the Month Club. If you like these images then please subscribe. Starting now (May 2024), For $13. a month you will receive an image from the 1943 series for the next year. Actually, to be precise you receive one print that features the selected image in two states. For example; May’s “Print of the Month” shows the interrelated collages “Save Me!” and “Bottled Right at the Spot”:

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