ii. (click to enlarge)
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the idea for our first collaboration came directly from mixing the concepts of Exquisite Corpse with Automatic Drawing — we were bonding over our interest in Surrealism when we came up with this. Surrealism, with its focus on the subconscious and breaking free from the restrictions of reality (or anything that is seen as oppressive), resonated significantly with us. for me, it has been somewhat of a driving force behind my personal work.
what drew Muizz and i to Exquisite Corpse was how we wanted this piece to be a visual representation of a dialogue, a conversation. Exquisite Corpse gave us the perfect gateway to create this; it usually involves a piece of paper, segmented by folds, where collaborators take turns adding to the drawing. sometimes the collaborators won’t know what the others have drawn until the ‘game’ is done — the ‘rules’ vary and are determined by the preferences of the collaborators. in our case, we used each others’ previous panels to determine what we draw on the next ones — in this way the piece would imitate spoken conversation (where you listen before responding). another ‘rule’ that we had was the use of coloured markers; we had to make sure our drawings ended on these markers, the points where our drawings would intersect. we used watercolour drips that started out as a large X that disintegrates to forms two X’s. it took us two sessions with a week-long break in between to complete this. we used pencils, pens, and ink — only blacks/greys so as not to interrupt the coloured markers.
since i prepared the watercolour drips, Muizz got to start the first panel. when he was done with it he would hand the paper to me and i would extend his drawing into the next panel, adding my contribution to the piece before handing it back to him with the next panel.
i had a lot of fun working with Muizz on this. it was exciting how well our similarities and contrasts work in our drawings. a few times we tried to analyse the drawings to see if they revealed anything about how we converse with others — they do.
when i wasn’t drawing, i spent my time reading snippets from books, doodling in the sketchbook, or lying on the floor.
when we were done, we laid the panels on the floor and were amazed at what the final image looked like in reverse (we’ve included this version so you can see). it looked, to us, as if we had created a timeline where organic matter was being disintegrated into abstraction. this sparked off some new ideas, which you’ll have to wait to see.
I’ve always loved subconscious drawing as a means of release, whether through ‘destroying tables beautifully’ (as a once-close friend once put it) or by filling moleskines with doodles and drawings during pockets of spare time back in university.
Drawing for me was, conceptually at least, like playing jazz: making it up along the way, but keeping control of the line that would guide and give the piece an overriding sense of harmony. Going automatic with thoughts, fingers and tools, directed only by a sense of an aesthetic pursuit which I could not fully explain myself, though recurring themes would surface.
Dhi and I hit it off immediately, having met for the first time at a readings event. We spoke about persian poetry and our inability to finish the books we had started – small, telling signs that we could collaborate on something that was very close to our hearts. Fashioning this piece together was refreshing as it quickly became a game. I would draw something to get a response from Dhi, to see what she would come up with, and in turn Dhi would pose challenges to get me to draw something I wouldn’t normally draw (I don’t draw figures, so the leg she threw at me I chopped off viciously.)
As Dhi suggested, the piece unfolded organically. It became more sophisticated in thought and resolution towards the end, as our relationship developed. It was exciting to see this manifest, savoring the last bits of it as it ended in powerful statements that spoke of convictions in our personal work. With casual art, I suppose you like it or you don’t, and between the two of us there were parts which we weren’t proud of or were itching to fix. Dhi, however, was firm in keeping all the mistakes, in line with the spirit of Exquisite Corpse. As a game, the point of it was to be cavalier and to have fun, with the hope that it would unleash things we had bubbling under the surface.
Invented by the Surrealists of the 1930s, the Exquisite Corpse had its origins in a parlour game between writers called Consequences in which players write in turn on a sheet of paper, fold it to conceal part of the writing, and then pass it to the next player. The structure fuels creative re-generation, so we’re excited to see what it can bring to future work whether with ISSUE, or anyone interested in starting a blossoming conversation, between artists and writers alike.
“Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau.” –
(The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.)
Dhiyanah Hassan doesn’t know how to behave *explodes*.
Muizz Adam doesn’t know what he’s drawing half the time. He is also an architect.