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Ten Everywhere: Guy Benjamin Brookshire, artist, collage collection
Posted By bl pawelek - 16th September 2011
In 10 words (no more, no less), describe your collages as a whole.
GBB: I illustrate my writing and the universe in my dreams.
What do you think about during creation?
GBB: Truth be told, not much I can verbalize. I pursue a psychological atmosphere, I try to open up a window on that dream universe. I amuse myself with the world each piece seems to describe. After the collage is coming together, I tell myself stories about the figures, but in the moment, it is the depth of the world that I fall into that I want. I feel very close to childhood, and I tend to wallow in that a bit. If there are overtly sexual elements in the collage, I often have an experience not too terribly dissimilar to what I experience when reading an erotic passage. I am a student of history and I can feel a great stirring sensation, a kind of fullness when manipulating images of historical significance. I enjoy some science fiction, particularly Borges and Lovecraft, and manipulating the horror and fantasy elements in the collage give me a similar feeling of deep, intellectual dread that I get reading them. Choice, jewel-like fragments of exploded narrative, Lowells “grand opera fixed in their veins.” That is what I am pursuing, those feelings. I want to disturb myself, to stir myself, in a good way. And hopefully other people.
Can you describe your process a bit?
GBB: I am a bibliophile. I collect books compulsively. This has gotten to be a problem. I collect hundreds of Childcraft books, old encyclopedias, time-life popular history collections, science-for-the-people collections. No yard or estate sale is safe. Year books, training manuals, cookbooks. I began cutting them up to illustrate my poetry, and the elements started to come together as collage. I was writing a book called VACATION and I began cutting images out of these books in order to find and fix in place the spaces and scenes I wanted, and some of them started becoming collages. Now I do collage for its own sake and the process is essentially sitting at a table surrounded by a junkyard of books with an exacto-knife and some glue and cutting images that I like out and pursuing a fantasy-feeling down whatever narratives start suggesting themselves. I get a perverse sense of power destroying the books, also, laying claim to the elements of the collage, de-contextualizing them to re-contextualize them. I also get lost in the fine-motor-skill elements of detail cutting.
‘Berserker’ – when I saw this, I thought of the lyric, “I spent time in the universal mind.” What are some words that describe it best?
GBB: Is that a Jim Morrison reference?
I conceived of Berserker as an illustration for the Universe War, a collage graphic novel I am working on, in which two secret societies of scientists begin to violate the basic laws of the universe in order to gain total control over Being itself. This was to illustrate one of the battles. Of course, the title ‘Berserker’ refers to the Norse warriors who would essentially suffer a psychotic break during battle and perform insane, homicidal/suicidal acts. There was a confused claim in English histories that they entered battle naked, as some Gauls did, but the image stuck with me of naked psychopaths covered in gore. When I saw this image in a wonders-of-the-human body style book, it was open next to a book about NATO air superiority. I thought, what could be more naked than to be without skin? How could you be more gory than to be exposing your own viscera? What is more homicidal than modern Air Power – what if you could defy it?
What is the first line of the ‘Song of Stars’?
GBB: “Hey! You in the skyyyyyyy . . .” Very France Gall, I imagine, but folksy.
Give odds on the donnybrook.
GBB: I never bet, I hate losing money. I also suffer under the unshakable conviction that my wagering somehow magically influences the outcome against my favor. Poe’s paradox says that the odds of rolling three twos in a row on a six-sided dice become immeasurably longer if you put money on it. I believe that. So, without getting more specific, I would bet against me. But I don’t bet.
What is the boy thinking in ‘I was Often Willfull’ (my favorite)?
GBB: I identify very, very closely with that figure. It is hard to verbalize. I suppose it is similar to the emotion that the little boy with his globe and stamps has at the beginning of Baudelaire’s “Le Voyage.” My father was a merchant marine and he had a cigar box full of coins from – literally – around the world that I would play with, and that poem means a lot to me. I loved maps and I still draw fantasy maps. I love that little boy so much – stolen from a radical protestant publication for youth from the 19th century called “The Little Gleaner” – that I want him to speak for himself. But I think he is living out the vastness of a world I caught glimpses of as a boy, to the dismay of the adults he does not care to acknowledge.
In ‘Picnic’ – are there any birds living in the tree house?
GBB: Not anymore.
‘ApostrophecasT’ – what is your favorite word that contains an A and T?
GBB: Attenborough. Do names count? If not, anastomosis. I think it accurately describes how a good collage comes together.
‘Gravelevity’ – What are the benefits of partial gravity?
GBB: As in the image, I imagine they would be mostly sexual. But “partial gravity” is a very nice phrase to isolate. I think that is how I would like people to approach the collages, serious play. To be delighted, but also to be willing to explore the ideas that arise, the implicit propositions.
‘Whiskey Beard’ – When was the last time you were quite capsized?
GBB: The last time I was reunited with my brother I put quite a dent in the whiskey supply. Concerns were raised. I believe at some point in the night he hid the bourbon in the pantry amidst the cereal flake boxes to cut me off.
In 10 words (no more, no less), describe your next project.
GBB: A novel about a war of spies across alternate universes.