I spent two full days in Kassel trying to see as much of the dOCUMENTA (13) exhibitions as possible. I was fervently hopping from one venue to the next, but by 7pm the second day I was kind of dragging myself along. Not because it wasn’t interesting, but because it was just a little bit too much. By chance, the very last room I viewed showed the work of one of my favourite collage artists, Geoffrey Farmer. People queued up to view Farmer’s Leaves of Grass (2012) at the Neue Gallery.
The three-dimensional collage spans over 18 meters and it is made up of cut-out images from five decades of Life Magazine – from 1935 to 1985. The pictures include advertisements, articles, and photographs of politicians, stars, and cultural icons. Each image is individually attached to a thin wooden post in order to give depth.
Farmer does not place images randomly, pictures are cut-out and juxtaposed in a meticulous way. It serves as a fun, but also at times serious, reflection on the world as American’s viewed it at particular moments in time. It is a delightful experience to stroll along the work. I was overwhelmed by the detail. Farmer managed to create what I, and some of my friends, have been attempting to create with found images – a sort-of über-collage. Upon exiting the gallery it felt as though I just watched a silent film, perhaps a ‘history of the USA in pictures’.
My photographs does not do the work justice, but I hope it gives some sense of enormity and detail of The Leaves of Grass.