Ryan Oliver is a Bristol based artist whose collage/photomontage works have been exhibited throughout the UK and also have been featured in numerous publications. His current practice examines the visual language of high fashion and lifestyle periodicals.
|Oliver's 'Untitled', photomontage/2015|
- an example of a recent non-kate collage
He looks at the ideas of beauty and perfection being “constantly scrutinized, cut from the original context and juxtaposed with strenuous misalliance”. His creations facilitate a dialogue between the innuendo laden visual languages of fashion imagery with pornography. He does this very effectively by exchanging something implicit for the explicit.
Ryan has stated, “I derive great satisfaction from abducting imagery aimed at the consumer and inverting the content to communicate divergent views ... my work confronts fashion's covenant of eternal youth; tumorous flesh, death and grief are imposed as rebuttal".
In the following excerpt - taken from an interview for 'East London Line', March 2011 (conducted by Angus Spawton-Rice) - Ryan spoke as to how he came to such ideas, giving context as to his kate work we explore with him:
|A section of 'Girl with pearls',|
photomontage with sellotape/2010
I began to work with collage when I studied illustration at university, where, the fulfillment of a given brief was the only concern. After graduation, when liberated from the constraints of an illustrative mindset, I expanded my practice. High fashion/lifestyle periodicals became my primary resource from which I scoured for and salvaged my imagery. During this laborious process, the visual language of fashion photography/advertising became apparent, beauty/perfection and sexualisation being the two constants. Due to my close proximity with this material I became concerned with the position of women regarding image and representation. Collage is the perfect medium for such a rebuttal. Collage by its very nature is disparaging of its source material; a destructive gesture of cutting and slicing a pre-existing image, only to be redeemed by the perpetrator, as he or she sees fit. It is a response and is countering to what was presented originally.
iskm: Why Kate Moss? Is she a primary source for you in this confrontation?
Ryan Oliver (RO): The pieces that I submitted (to ishotkatemoss) are samples taken from various periods in my practice. Kate Moss has never had preferential treatment in my studio. I select models/images on aesthetics (posture, gaze, colour, tone) and the capacity to communicate a new dialogue. However, Kate Moss is an icon and I am conscious that her inclusion affords a work gravitas that an alternate muse would not.
iskm: How many works have you created using kate?
RO: I've created four images using Kate Moss, all of which are collage with no other means of manipulation. I'm terribly traditionalist when it comes to collage/photomontage; scissors and a glue stick is all I permit myself.
iskm: How/why did you select the source images that you did for ‘Death Moss’?
RO: With ‘Death Moss’ I began with multiple black and white images of the dead and their grieving relations, sourced from ‘Bizarre’ magazine. My intention was to juxtapose these with a high fashion image of a model to contrast vitality and beauty worship with necrosis and bereavement.
iskm: And why this specific image of kate as the source?
RO: I chose this image of Kate Moss, which would become ‘Death Moss’ not simply for the physical ‘scaffold’ for which I could impose mortality but the seduction of the sexual gaze. Whilst initially conflicting, this amalgamation has transformed Kate Moss into a succubus, an ‘angel of death’, hence the title ‘Death Moss’.
|'Kate (shame series)', collage/2013|
iskm: You impose harsh, powerful and confronting imagery against the backdrop of modern ideas of beauty in order to ‘confront fashion’s covenant’. Do you feel that you need to make people uncomfortable in order to get the message through today? 'Kate (shame series)' as an example is far more understated. Is there a role for subtlety in this conversation?
RO: My work is initially constrained by the source material I can acquire. I endeavor to appropriate the imagery honestly to create aesthetic and contextual interest, sometimes subtly and sometimes less so. I can’t imagine considering anything too risqué and would never personally censor my work. I am a firm believer that offence is taken not given.
|Oliver's 'Untitled-6 (marriage series)', photomontage 2009|
iskm: Where do you find the line drawn between pornography and fashion? As an example, are you challenging (or emphasizing the lack of) this line in your Untitled-6 Kate collage?
RO: There is of course a difference; pornography is explicit, sex is the product. Fashion imagery (to varying degrees) is implicit, using sexuality to incentivize. ‘Untitled 6’ is a mirroring of the posture, gaze and sexual ‘availability’ that is present in the language of pornography and fashion imagery alike.
In an earlier interview I mentioned that I invert content to communicate divergent views. This is the essence of collage. As The Dadaist Hugo Ball expressed, "For us, art is not an end in itself ... but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in." Over the past two decades, the use of increasingly explicit sexual imagery in the media, especially in consumer-oriented print advertising has become almost commonplace. Sex sells. I don't suspect much will change in the next ten, twenty years.
iskm: Which artist/s and/or photographer/s would you most want to most see involved in ishotkatemoss?
RO: I would really like to see what the Chapman brothers or John Stezaker would contribute; the Chapmans for their particular brand of irreverence and Stezaker for his economic yet masterful form of appropriation.
In the meantime, we can certainly continue to be challenged by Ryan’s own irreverent, appropriated imagery by viewing more of his collage work at www.ryanoliverart.com
Observe. Slow Down. Shoot. Submit.