Covid Collage Chronicles by Cathy Greenhalgh (2021)

  • Exhibition
  • 40min


Artist Statement

Film-making, teaching and writing are my normal means of engaging with the world. However, during 2020, collage or photo-montage not only became my modus operandi, but a vital modus vivendi. Migrating between my self, the new Covid world and south-London lockdown, making collages provided a daily means of processing what was happening. This centred on the inner world of the kitchen table, scissors, glue and magazine cuttings and the outer sphere of television news, radio phone-ins, social media, family chats and work zooms. What began as creative therapy developed into a visual anthropology chronicle, an ‘ars combinatoria’ diary of the pandemic. I used square silver cake cards, (10”x10”x 3mm thick). Dystopic humour, handmade dexterity and the serendipity of found images creating unexpected montage effects was both satisfying and calming. Later I used some online images and bought magazines from within walking radius of my home as well as donations via my street Whatsapp.

The collages cover aspects of communication, culture, economy, environment, health, people, politics, protest, and spirit, but are also personal. Spring lockdown activities, Summer uprisings and trauma, Autumn grief and conspiracies and Winter resilience and infection are incorporated. I use typical collage techniques of appropriation, juxtaposition and recycling for deliberate incongruity, shock, and occasional transgression as well as absurdity and humour. Narrative drive is propelled in a film differently to perambulating a physical gallery space. For these filmed presentations, I’ve concentrated on how one scans the collage images and makes associative links. There is no voice-over and the films are silent as this seems to offer time and more immersive contemplation of the collages. The words and images jump out in a social media manner. Viewers might wish to pause to read smaller text sub-stories and more subtle image contrasts, though the text is often deliberately jumbled and cut-up.

Cathy Greenhalgh

RAIFF 2021 is the premiere of this work.