"The Mandelstam Series"
Russian American Cultural Center
On view from: February 7 - 21, 2002
John Digby's collages are inspired by books, both literally and figuratively. Committed to an aesthetic of archival permanence in collage, he makes all of his black and white image papers by de-acidifying, recycling and some cases abstracting reproductions of wood engravings from nineteenth-century books. His unusual surfaces are intricately constructed by a process of scrubbing and crumpling papers, then drawing on them with acid-free paste. Unlike most collagists who build up layers of contrasting papers, Digby works to achieve a unified composition by inlaying all of his paper fragments. He cuts out his fine elements with a surgical scalpel and sets each piece of the composition into place as if composing a mosaic.
Conceptually, he thinks of his collages as a visual form of lyric poetry. The Mandelstam Series is directly inspired by the poetry and prose of Osip Mandelstam, whose harsh life of exile is expressed in the maze of roads leading nowhere, the broken vectors and color references to the bleak Siberian landscape.
In connection with the exhibition opening, there will be a reading of Mandelstam's poetry in Russian and English from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on February 7. Included among the readers are actor Rustam Galitch, clothing designer and collagist Luda Pahl and poet Michael Heller.
John Digby was born in London in 1938. He has exhibited widely in England, France, the United States and Korea. Three volumes of his poetry have been published by Anvil Press Poetry, and he has written and edited several other books. He lives and works in Oyster Bay, New York.
The exhibition is open to the public from February 7-21, during the hours of 12-5 p.m. at the Russian-American Cultural Center 55 John Street, 14th Floor. Curator: Regina Khidekel. This exhibition is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and Dynamo Development Co.