Like an old-style police line-up, as soon as you walk into the Whitworth’s main gallery area are the surreal pictorial collages set flush against the four white walls. Man and woman fused together. Landscape and social situations join to create romantic dramatisations. Chest and legs clamp together in unceremonious harmony.
It’s the way in which John Stazeker slices and dices, cutting his images to achieve a perfectly imperfect final picture. Just like the mind and body is in a constant flux, the messages directed through his imagery enhances a union of this human condition through old postcards, magazines and books.
This is what makes his ready-made art so appealing to the viewer. Its like he turns on a switch that makes you point to both outside and within yourself. My body twists at the sight of the two disjointed bodies forming a new whole. My mind is startled by the two individual faces coming together to stare out of these new eyes at the viewer in front of them. They command attention in their ability to promote an emotional response. And these splices can also represent personality and character.
Landscape illustrations intervene in social situations. Gushing waterfalls, rapid rivers and mountainous scenery symbolise thoughts, emotion, pain and happiness. The Hollywood starlet with a big waterfall in place of her head could refer to the human consciousness. The blank white space in a room full of people could surely hint at what’s being said and if it matters at all. Men speaking together whilst an invisible conversation goes on above them could be observed as silent whispers. A couple gaze adoringly into the void of a picture-postcard seascape.
Its refreshing that there seem to be no class divides. Gender stereotyping goes out of the window. Each image is iconic, stands powerful and speaks for itself. Faceless people have potency. And despite the old cinema focus it’s a very contemporary theme. In our endless world of Z-list celebrity, mental health illness, limitless access to news and images through the internet, its reference to silent films, where you just looked at pictures and imagined the sound of their words is undeniably refreshing. Facial expression and body language is your number one focus.
Each image conceives an ideology of good fun, laughter and banter. You can draw your own conclusions. Idealise any type of conversation. Imagine what’s going on in their minds at that moment. John Stezaker’s art suggests the disturbing qualities behind the human mind, body and relationships with the world through quite innocent photographic imagery. Reflections, duplications and interventions mirror backwards and forwards the range of human communication. This exhibition gives precedence to an exciting type of visual language and I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future.
On until June 2018
Oxford Road, Manchester