The year is 2062. Climate change, political and social division, income inequality, and a series of pandemics fundamentally altered how humanity organizes itself. In this time, the focus is less on the accumulation of wealth and more on a sustainable future. The nuclear family, commuting, and suburban living are things of the past. People live in interconnected, vertical communities. People work less and they work remotely. These communities are multi-generational. They school and raise their children together. They care for their elders as a collective. Rather than living in houses spread out across the land, groups of people live in Pod Towers where the ecological footprint is concentrated. Ric Kasini Kadour draws out this scenario through a series of fictional oral histories and archive materials in which people from the future recount their past. The histories are accompanied by a series of collage works that illustrate the idea of “Pod Tower Living”.
Kadour uses art to tell stories that are often speculative in nature, operating from the viewpoint of the future, and involved in world building, mythologizing, and history making. In the project, “Pod Tower Historical Society”, Kadour recasts himself as the archivist and historian of a communal living space in the future. The collages use artist designed and printed wallpaper and original photographs, photomontages, or found photographs printed on fine paper. Fictional archive materials are made by adapting materials from community-specific Special Collections. In doing this, Kadour threads history into a story from the future that looks back and comments on the present.
Installation Pod Tower Historical Society
The body of work manifests as an installation of the Pod Tower Historical Society where the viewer is encouraged to sort through the fictional archives. A growing collection of folders contains collaged architectural plans, newspaper clippings, photographs of people who lived in the pods, transcriptions of oral histories, and pages about people who lived in the pods. A finding aid details how the work was appropriated. Material can be purposed as zines and pamphlets. Other artists can be invited to contribute work to the archive.
Pod Tower Living: Indian Hill, Pawlet, Vermont 1 was included in “Vermont Utopias: Imagining the Future” at Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont November 27th-December 28th, 2020 Curator: Jamie Franklin WEBSITE
Kolaj Magazine is an internationally-oriented, printed, quarterly magazine about contemporary collage. We are interested in how collage is made, how collage is exhibited, and how collage is collected. We are interested in the role collage plays in contemporary visual culture. We provide quality exposure for contemporary collage art.
In 2012, Ric Kasini Kadour co-founded Kolaj Magazine with Benoit Depelteau. At a time when printed publications are under duress, Kolaj Magazine is thriving. Its growing subscriber base comes from thirty-six countries, on every continent except Antarctica. This full colour, internationally-oriented art magazine retails for $12.00. Ric Kasini Kadour serves as the Publisher and Editor.
We approach collage broadly and, as such, we have included in our territory of inquiry such media as traditional cut-and-paste collage, digital collage, assemblage, photomontage, fibre art when it has an element of juxtaposition, and painting when it appears as if multiple visual languages are in use or cut paper fragments are used as a compositional tool of the painter in a manner that is evident in the final work. This approach has afforded us a unique position to observe contemporary collage and make connections between the historic and the current practice of artists, gallerists, museums, curators, historians, and critics.
The magazine operates with a unique publishing model that is driven by its subscribers, has limited advertising, caters to a ’boutique audience’, and takes advantage of on-demand printing. Kolaj uses an editorial approach that makes content relevant in the long-term, so that the articles in Kolaj #1 are as relevant as the most recent issue. As a result, the project does a significant trade in back issues and the archive of magazines remains a relevant source of ideas and information.
In addition to a printed magazine, the effort has expanded into a number of key subprojects.
The Collage Taxonomy Project is an ongoing survey of the wider collage community that attempts to define the language we use to talk about collage.
Collage has a problem with taxonomy. Because collage is both a medium and a genre, an approach to artmaking that involves lots of different media, its definition is vague. While the wide-view editorial approach of the magazine has broadened our understanding to include both the genre of collage, the method, and the medium, it becomes problematic when we engage in critical and curatorial matters.
Collage is an enormous tree and its branches are as widespread and diverse as its roots. If we are truly going to celebrate all things collage (and more importantly, advance a critical and curatorial understanding of collage), we need to develop a collage taxonomy. To that end, Kolaj Magazine actively solicits suggests from its readers and publishes articles that seek to define terms and concepts. The purpose is to give the community a common language to talk about collage.
Collage Books takes an inclusive approach to documenting collage-related publishing efforts and is open to trade editions, ‘zines, artist books, catalogues, and literary endeavours. “So much of collage these days is experienced in printed, published form,” said Kolaj editor and publisher Ric Kasini Kadour. “Collage Books is Kolaj Magazine’s tool for organizing, documenting, and cataloguing books in which collage plays an important role.”
The audience for the site includes readers and collectors of collage books and printed ephemera as well as curators, art venues, and writers. “We aim to create a historical record of books about collage and raise awareness of new titles as they become available,” said Kadour. The directory includes books in and out of print.
Collage Books contains listings for all collage-related titles, and like the magazine, the site takes a broad view. Trade editions, art criticism, and coffee table books are featured side by side with artist books, gallery-published catalogues, and self-published ‘zines. The site is also open to literary endeavours that feature collage. When possible, the directory links titles to reviews of books in the magazine and places where the book can be purchased.
Kolaj Magazine‘s Artist Directory is a tool for organizing and cataloguing artists who work in the medium of collage. Its audience includes the general public as well as independent curators, art venues, and writers. The editorial staff uses the Artist Directory to select artists to feature in the publication and to select artists for various curatorial projects. Not all artists featured in the publication are in the database and there is no guarantee that listing in the database will result in being featured in the magazine. The Artist Directory exists as a public resource for those interested in collage as a medium and is designed to put interested parties in direct contact with artists.
Kolaj Magazine presents Exhibitions-in-Print as a means of exploring critical ideas about collage. We examine work related to a curatorial premise, identify themes and ideas. The purpose is to develop and share an understanding of collage as a medium and a genre.
Kasini House Artshop works with the Kolaj Magazine Artist Directory to produce curated packs of the Collage Artist Trading Cards. Each card is a full colour, 5.5″ x 3.5″ postcard with rounded corners. An example of an artist’s work is on the front of the card and the artist’s public contact information is on the back. Collage Artist Trading Cards come in packs of 15.
After five years of publishing and editing the magazine, we have come to five key observations: 1) Collage is a poorly curated, archived, and understood medium in the art world. 2) The Collage Community is enthusiastic and passionately devoted to the medium. 3) Collage repeatedly shows up at key moments of artistic advancement, regardless of whether or not the final artwork is collage. 4) Collage manifests new thinking and continues the work of Modernism. A collage-centric view of art history redefines both cannon and art history’s narrative. 5) A historic shift is taking place where the lessons of early-Modernist collage are being employed in contemporary artworks. Ric Kasini Kadour actively seeks opportunities to share these observations with art professionals through meetings and public talks.
I produce art products as a means of exploring further questions of object and meaning: How does an object have meaning? Why does an object have meaning? And what role do objects play in our lives? North Americans are consumers by nature. We acquire stuff. In doing so, we enter into a dialogue with the makers and sellers of the objects.
A bookstore owner in Toronto once told me, “People don’t buy books to read them. They buy books to own them.” In this sense, objects are artifacts of personal history. People collect toys, comic books, antique signs, Beanie Babies™ etc…things with a perceived function or potential value. These objects have great meaning to people. Why is art so different?
To address these question, I make nonsensical sculptures, Dadaist-inspired pieces of small art made from everyday objects that are repurposed so as to accentuate form and remove functionality. Objects are named, branded, and packaged. Sometimes, such as in the case of Magazines That Hate People, I start with an idea—a critique of magazine media culture—and then design and make an object to embody it. Other times, I start with an object and work to give it meaning through package, presentation, and narrative. An example of this is Bag To Remove Sadness where I liked the look of an inflated brown lunch bag tied with a string and paired it with Yoko Ono-inspired instructions.
Some Art Products are multiples or variables; others are simply one time endeavors. And some Art Products are part of a larger project.
How does an object have meaning? Why do we own objects? How do we consume, acquire, or collect objects? How does art become or maintain its relevance? These questions are central to my practice.
I started ARTSHOP in 2004 as a way of organizing, exhibiting, and sharing art products: those things made by artists which are not necessarily fine art, not simply reproductions of fine art, and not craft; the by-products, ephemera, and small objects of contemporary visual artists. Art Product is a family that includes the following genera: ephemera, publications, multiples, and small art. I often explain it as the things artists make that are not their primary work, but that do embody their vision, aesthetic, and ideas.
The project is informed by Claes Oldenburg 1961’s The Store, in which the artist converted his workshop in New York’s Lower East Side into a retail storefront and stocked it with painted pop sculptures made out of muslin and plaster. From 2002 to 2005, the concept was re-interpreted by Joyce Yahouda, a gallerist in Montreal. The Store explored the inherent tension of art presented as commodity. ARTSHOP is also informed by Toronto’s Art Metropole, a project started in 1974 by General Idea that documented the conceptual art movement in Canada by collecting (and sometimes selling) contemporary art multiples and ephemera; and by Printed Matter in New York, which was founded in 1976 by a collective of artists and art workers seeking to examine the role of artists’ publications in the landscape of contemporary art.
ARTSHOP has three parts: a collection of approximately 200 art products that have been permanently acquired; collaborations with artists whose work is for sale through ARTSHOP; and art products that I have made. Since 2004, ARTSHOP has been presented as an online magazine and shop; as a time-limited exhibition in an art gallery context; as part of larger art events and fairs; and in ongoing installation at two commercial art galleries. While most contemporary art employs luxury marketing strategies in its sale and presentation, ARTSHOP uses the vernacular of retail to present art to the viewer. North Americans are fluent in the visual language of retail and as a result, interact with art presented in this manner differently. Online, ARTSHOP has explore a variety of models from using social media to promote and sell art products to a subscription model that engages the audience for a year at a time.
An art product is not complete until it is sold. This is not unprecedented in contemporary art. Yves Klein’s Zone de Sensibilité Picturale Immatérielle (1959-1962) divorced art from object and placed art in the milieu of ritual by selling empty space. The sale of the space was the art. I would argue that the sale of Damien Hirst’s work is as important as the work itself. For the Love of God transforms $24 million in diamonds into a $100 million piece of art, but the work was not completed until it was sold on August 30th, 2008.
The sale of the art products in ARTSHOP completes the objects and a significant component to this project is devoted to the selling of art products. To date, ARTSHOP has existed primarily in the context of art (galleries, art fairs, events, etc.) where the audience has engaged the project prepared to have an experience of art. The introduction of retail theory into space primarily using luxury marketing strategies is profound. Some patrons reject the idea outright and walk out of the gallery. Others transform completely. They remove their hands from behind their back and begin touching objects and looking at them differently. The exchange of money for product is a performative act that completes the work.
In 2013, I started doing INSTANT ARTSHOP, a version of the project as an intervention outside of an art context: flea markets, grocery stores, malls, and other public spaces that are separate from contemporary art spaces. I built a self-contained kiosk on which art products can be displayed.
While ARTSHOP is a vehicle for showing and selling my own projects, most of the objects in ARTSHOP are produced by other people. With most of those objects, the artist was not necessarily thinking about how the consumer would relate to, acquire, or own the object. Artists often only make work only for themselves; to express their own ideas and feelings. ARTSHOP works as a bridge between the artist and the viewer by shepherding a design and marketing process that results in a greater connection between the viewer and the artwork.
Sometimes these are one-offs made for INSTANT ARTSHOP. Other times they are studies for projects, particularly when I am experimenting with blur.
Others are made for a specific project, such as My Junk Taste Like Flowers, and the focus is on creating multiples. To make multiple copies of an instant colour photograph, one has to hold the camera in place and pull the photograph at exactly the same time. This works great in the studio…most of the time, but can be challenging outdoors where the most I’ve gotten is three before giving up.
When we shot 100 copies of My Junk Taste Like Flowers, two of us worked to shoot, time, and pull the photographs. But with the lights in the room and two bodies, the temperature changed which affected the pull time as we progressed through the shoot. The entire exercise was an interesting challenge, but not one I feel like I need to repeat.
My favorite subject to shoot with this method is the sky because the blues are rich and variable.
Instant Colour Photographs are available in ARTSHOP.