The Collages Of Elena Fattakova
By William Benton
Writers who make visual art – from Victor Hugo to Henry Miller to Elizabeth Bishop invariably think of it as an amateur pursuit, something to fiddle around with at the leeward edge of their real work. With Elena Fattakova this is not the case. She is a poet and collagist; both things are done with the same authority and commitment. Indeed, it is almost as if the decision to create one or theother involved little more than just a shift of bodily position.
The great collagists have all been innovators and artists who at once defined the nature of collage and stamped it with their own style. As a result, no form has been so poignantly orphaned. Between the peaks of Picasso, Schwitters, Cornell, Motherwell, and Rauschenberg, there is almost nothing, an empty, scavenger wind.
Fattakova works within the common vocabulary of collage, but with one important exception: she’s not an object maker. The process is for her one of use, in which relations are discovered. In the act of finding them, a look is built up. Unanticipated symmetries, color and shape, metaphor and image, rise out of the materials with the force of immediacy. A photograph of a large metal sculpture of a crane (a bird) being lifted by an industrial crane produces an attractive visual rhyme; but by adding to it a hasty allusion to origami cranes, is expressed in a pure collage event. You can almost hear the rustle of the paper being creased.
Collage is a medium in which the irrational, the sudden juxtaposition of disparate realities, is an essential element of composition. Dissociation between things is the necessary condition for the stunning alchemy that connects them. Fattakova is fluent in this shadow dance at the edge of the unconscious, where the work of both poet and artist takes place.
William Benton, The New Yorker