Aftermath A2 – Cluster presentions of contemporary art and its relationship with ‘Surrogates’

In the aftermath of my assignment work for part 2 and while searching for ‘Surrogates’ appropriations I came across a contemporary art practice. More and more I do see images online and in galleries and museums where pictures are hanging as grid, as cluster (more or less structured and presenting thus to the viewer a ‘meta-picture’ . The amount of single picture overwhelming and hard for the brain to comprehend in total. In this context Mc Collum stated that ‘there is a reason that we need to think of things as being alike. There is a reason that we stereotype.’  (Dellinger, 2013). I am wondering whether McCollum’s notion of the blurring appearance of pictures seen from a distance or in a gallery space alongside the physical and embodied presence has something to do with the new practices.

Another reason for my interest in those ‘cluster-picture-hangings’ are related back to my OCA course  and assignment work for painting (POP1) that I finished in March this year. Three examples of my own work where my tutor suggested me to see them in context of Modernist Art (Schaffeld, 2016a, b, 2017):


Stefan J Schaffeld 'Portrait Objects', 2016-17; 12 segments in acrylic (each 16 x 18 cm) on board (60 x 80 cm)

Fig. 1: Stefan J Schaffeld ‘Portrait Objects’, 2016-17; 12 segments in acrylic (each 16 x 18 cm) on board (60 x 80 cm)

 Stefan J Schaffeld 'Constructed Landscape', 2016; 12 segments each 40 x 40 cm – total 120 x 160 cm), Ink and acrylic on primed paper 600 g/sqm

Fig. 2: Stefan J Schaffeld ‘Constructed Landscape’, 2016; 12 segments each 40 x 40 cm – total 120 x 160 cm), Ink and acrylic on primed paper 600 g/sqm

Stefan J Schaffeld 'The Rock', 2016; 13 segments, mixed media, various formats

Fig. 3: Stefan J Schaffeld ‘The Rock’, 2016; 13 segments, mixed media, various formats

One image I found in a magazine of Georg Baselitz (b. 1938) sitting in front of his studio wall covered with smaller images. The other are ths cluster presentations by Juliette Blightman, an artist I do admire and took some inspirations from (I went last year to an exhibition in Bern, Switzerland –

Stefan513593_Aftermath - assignment 2 - contemporary clusters

Fig. 1: Stefan513593 – Aftermath – assignment 2 – contemporary clusters

The questions I ask myself:

  • How do those cluster, pictures relate to Allan McCollum ‘Surrogates’?
  • How much is appropriation and what is unique?
  • Do the current practices have same roots in Modernist Art as Mc Collum’s ‘Surrogates’?
  • What other aspects are relevant to understand current practices?

What I can see it the overwhelming presence of pictures that attracts the attention of the viewer first by the overall size (Gestalt), best to see from distance (like walking around the corner towards those ‘walls’). Followed by a curiosity to look what is inside each frame. Basically I can thise back and force physical movement to Mc Collum’s notion of of insecurity of the viewer, a tension between advancing and receding (Wilmes, 1988).  A tensions that perhaps is not getting resolved, a truly embodied experience on location.

And than, in case of Blightman, there is the notion of construction, of single images as single perspectives from her daily life, constructed and presented to convey a more holistic sense of the Self.

So, how do those two related to each other? Do they relate at all?

What I can see is that the perception of Other can be at times like to wobbling sensation with ‘Surrogates’ or the vast amound of single images hanging side-by-side on a wall. It seem it needs both, a distancing view and a close up view with deeper interrogation. Quite fascinating, and while writing this, I can see how various aspects and context can overlay each other.

Is this a kind of Postmodernist perspective? Is this pure construction of just trying to find common grounds, like the longer you dig the more you will find? More questions …

Overall, I do feel that there is more for me to understand and find my own way. Moreover I do think that this might a good topic for OCA forum discussion where I wlll put it now  – and come back here with relfections on feedback and discussion afterwards.

Final conclusions:

<will come soon – waiting for OCA forum discussions -ongoing>


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