Collage comprises miscellaneous pieces put together to create new meaning, that harmonises the very existence of these pieces without excluding its aesthetic qualities. An interrogation of mainstream art, a concoction of creative adroitness and a reflection of the venturous spirit of the artist, is how I would define the art form called collage. Breaking the boundaries of banality, collage is emerging as the 21st century medium of art. From neo-expressionism to analytical cubism and Dadaist surrealism, as modern viewers, we are no longer attuned to seeing contemporary art as realistic! Even photography, as an art, has evolved to photomontages and much more than the ‘epistemological realism’ that used to be its guiding star. The technique of collage was introduced to add something to art, that strokes of colour could not. It was meant to supplement the artwork with the layers of meaning, to beat the monotony of canvas, to secure a new dimension even to the deconstruction genius of Picasso.
The collage in the illustration is about a woman, walking into a vortex of the mundane… impervious to the fact that she will get lost in the depth of subalternity and anonymity! However, this could also be the only way to walk out of the vortex of the mundane, triumphant and leaving behind the marks of struggle and conquest, dejection and poise, approval and autonomy.
The theme of gender has never left my art since the time I studied gender at undergraduate college. I don’t remember whether I chose gender studies as a discipline because I was passionate about it or whether it became an integral part of my life because I studied it. Whichever way, it has made me identify events, acts, social norms, professions, roles, fact and fiction, history and civics, almost everything as manifestations and representations of gender. I see that happening with my students today, who write to me about how, after studying gender, they can’t stop seeing gender playing its role in all aspects of life. Not only does it have a behavioural impact on them, some of them are doing something to make an impact on the community!
I teach a module on Gender and Water in the Foundation Programme Studio on Water at Ahmedabad University. In the beginning, students can't make out the relation between water and gender, however, by the end of the Studio the pieces join together like a magnificent collage and make meaning. I see the Foundation Programme Studio on Water and in fact, the entire Foundation Programme at Ahmedabad University, as a collage of diverse themes, many teams of faculty members and teaching assistants, and different domains like life sciences, behaviour, data science, markets and products, materials, communication, culture, gender, literature and fine arts, that re-envisions these fragmented elements, concepts and ideas to realise a purposeful composition. It is an extremely captivating broad gauge approach to learning through multimedia.
Interdisciplinary is the new collage.
At Ahmedabad University, learning is like a powerful collage… where the artist is not one, the perspective is not one, the medium is not one, the knowledge domain is not one, and the interpretation is not one… where each part is seen in relation to another, and contributes to a composite world-view that is rich with meaning.
Undergraduate College, Foundation Programme Studio, Interdisciplinary, Arts and Humanities