A lot of your work conveys a striking sense of history or memory, is this something you are keen to explore, and if so, why?
Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s consciously been the major exploration in my practice for the past several years, and really, for the whole time, although I couldn’t have told you when I first began seeing collage as art as well as craft that those were the overarching themes. But they are, and I think one of the reasons it’s so interesting to me is that, when I’m in the process of composing images I’m also making my way through however much vernacular history it takes to find the right elements to make the image work; a friend of mine sent me a link to a funny advertising archive thing the other day and I was surprised—or maybe not surprised—to see so many ads that I’d seen before, that I’d maybe used as basis for pieces of work, and it made me realise how much dumb history I’ve consumed and appropriated into something new. A lot of my abstract work, and a lot of the work in the book, takes these sort of empty, facile bits of 40s and 50s ad speak and, I think by removing them from any sort of context, parses out some hidden or new meaning from them: “the content is the strategy”, “don’t just ask for, insist on”, “this is for keeps”. It creates a private language nevertheless indebted to the past. It’s interesting to see how the past can speak through the smallest gesture.
You're also a keen photographer—what's the relationship between this and collage within your practice as a whole?
For the longest time I haven’t been able to formally draw a connection between the two practices, outside the fact that they’re both concerned with illuminating the previously unseen, whether that’s the inherent qualities in printed matter or actual physical objects or buildings or people or whatever, some trace of something. Lately I’ve been trying to make the connections more evident and I’ve been working with my own prints as basis for collage. But I’ve always felt that the two practices feed one another in a lot of ways; they both tend to inform each other compositionally and aesthetically and I don’t think either would work, or at least be as strong, without each other. Nominally, the goal for 2017 and 2018 is figuring out a way they can exist simultaneously in one body of work without any extra weight being put on either and without one feeling beholden to the other. But yeah: they’re intrinsically related and neither would be doable without the other.a-gerace.com