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Collage has few rules and infinite possibilities in One Thing Leads to Another: An Essay on Collage litzine

One Thing Leads to Another: An Essay on Collage

litzine, Diane Schoemperlen, Woodbridge Farm Books, thewoodbridgefarm.com/chapbooks, $10

“One thing leads to another, eventually,” is Diane Schoemperlen’s anti-explanation of the incongruity of collage. The phrase allows collage to drift into visually intriguing meaninglessness and back again toward an idea or story. As with zines, collage has few rules and infinite possibilities. “Collage stakes its claim on the undefended border between accident and intention.” When accident outweighs intention and questions start to accumulate on tongues, Schoemperlen insists: “Please don’t ask me what it means. I might say I don’t know,” and notes that she “read somewhere that asking a writer to explain how she did it is like asking a centipede how it manages to walk with all those legs. After thus being questioned, the centipede was never able to move again. The same could be said of making collage. I worry about this.”

For Schoemperlen, incongruity and uncertainty are essential to the charm of collage. She contrasts it with writing and its obsessive revisions. Even though she is a much more accomplished writer than visual artist, she sometimes flees from the former to the latter: “A collage has never made me want to tear my hair out. For this I am thankful. I have to admit I am rather fond of my hair.” On the one hand, emphasizing the peace and escape collage has provided her, Schoemperlen is known for incorporating it into her novels; it is not just a hobby for her. Yet she goes on to say that, “When perfection is not required, there can be no such thing as failure. Collage is a most friendly and forgiving art form in which the only rules are those you create for yourself.”

This essay explores the intersection of visual art and words, how they complement one another and can flourish together. I’m sure this zine would be a joy to anyone who already loves collage and for those of us who have languished in the dark, Shoemperlen’s enthusiasm is contagious, a flash of light on an eccentric medium.

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