April 1998
Collage makes itself conspicuous. Even an exhibition that aims at locating new manifestations, new readings for a practice of Collage fails to surprise in at least one important respect. Collage subsists on its own facture. It is haunted by the testimony of its making, however equivocal or uncertain, and it is constituted in this haunting. But this haunting is not simply indexical. To the extent that the facture of a Bonnfoi, or a Taylor evinces a prior time, a hyposequence, it is like a ghost. But this reading turns away from the immanence of making in the thing already formed In turning to collage, I turned to something - a reserve - may be the lining of Painting I have spoken of elswhere. The initial impetus was to gather distance from the work, to work around the problems of painterly touch on which I had staked entirely too much. By the time that I began my current (collage) practice, I had already digested most of the arguments leveled against painting in the 1980's. On the face of things, these arguments still hold their own for me. But the conclusions that were reached regarding the end of painting (modernist painting; modernism) seem fundamentally wrong-headed in the end. Lyotard has written about the error that traps those who think back through modernism to its (post)terior. They repeat the sins that they are trying to expunge - they cannot see that they are propelled by the same desires that constitute and propel the modern. They look back from the end of Modernism, never realizing that "the question of the beginning of the plot is posed at the end of the plot, merely because it constitutes its end" (Rewriting Modernity). Modernity has already within itself its own rewriting. In any event, the move away from painting with paint to painting with something else was motivated by my desire to put down - to set down - a pedestrian problematic of touch. Touch in this sense is largely an indexical question: namely, what can be said about the correlation between the mark made and the mark-maker? In my opinion, too much had already been said. I had long since registered these complaints against the failure of the hand in my working premise. It was time to continue the business of painting with an end run around indexical touch and onto a second, more profound problematic of touch - a kind of touch that has phenomenological import. There is no longer a question of whether or how a touch refers to a hand. Now there is a question of how a mark or figure touches ground - and how ground touches back. This is how I now understand the workings of touch in my paintings. And this is why I have foregrounded the facture of collage at the beginning of this (trajectory?).