Silent and Mysterious Surreal Photomontage

Photomontage is the process and the result of making a composite photograph by cutting, gluing, rearranging and overlapping two or more photographs into a new image. Sometimes the resulting composite image is photographed so that a final image may appear as a seamless photographic print.

A similar method, although one that does not use film, is realized today through image-editing software. This latter technique is referred to by professionals as “compositing”, and in casual usage is often called “photoshopping” (from the name of the popular software system). A composite of related photographs to extend a view of a single scene or subject would not be labeled as a montage.
Drawing from an archive of collected material, Suzanne Moxhay creates intricate and complex photomontage images. Her method was derived in part from the early filmmaking technique of matte painting, where backdrops were painted on sheets of glass and integrated by the camera with the live-action on set. She builds up the image in her studio using cutout fragments of source material, which she makes into small stage sets on glass panels. She then re-photographs the sets and manipulates the images digitally, an act of reprocessing which takes them further away from their original context and broadens the narrative potential.
Her source material is drawn from an archive of collected imagery, from mid 20th century books and magazines to contemporary found photographs as well as her own photographs and paintings. She works intuitively with the material, finding points of connection between details, either through shared subject matter or formal considerations such as following the path of light from one image through another to create spaces, which at first may appear real but on closer inspection begin to dissolve. She plays with anomalies – of texture, surface, depth, space, scale, movement and architecture – to involve the viewer in the construction of the image, and to make them question it. In the finished work there is often an uneasy sense of a space that does not quite fit together – either formally or conceptually, but possesses a reality of its own. One which we are unable to pinpoint as factual or fictitious.

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