This one time, at art school, an epic battle ensued between the forces of feminism and the forces of formalism. At this point I can’t actually remember where the battle lines were drawn; however, I do distinctly recall the issue of glitter taking center stage (if you’re willing to mix metaphors). The discussion revolved around the glitter, hearts and puppy dogs that found their way into the girly girl outsider artwork of the latest wave of feminism’s artistic onslaught back in two -thousand-whatever. Although this was a moment destined to live in infamy, I myself was hoping to keep it buried deeply in my subconscious, until one night at Espace Surplus brought it all back. Turns out, feminism and glitter—not a match made in heaven.
Before we get to glitter, I’m afraid—and I really am sorry to do this to you—we have to discuss collage. Now, I myself was not one of the many millions of adolescents who spent their days cutting out hottie’s heads, horses and the occasional hotrod for a bedroom spread; however, I have recently become a devotee to the cult of collage. There is something shockingly satisfying about positioning a leopard tail alongside a red balloon and a giant gemstone. Seriously. However, I’ve noticed that, much like my love of beanie babies and the pet rock (also seriously), my newfound addiction to cutting things out, repositioning them and gluing them back together seems to be a bit of a trend with the up-and-coming artists these days.
Dougherty's work at Espace Surplus. Photo: Chris Phillips
So what, I ask, should I make of the hallway of Espace Surplus beckoning me into a show about feminism with some collages combining—wait for it—cute animals and geometric shapes in bright colors? More pre-pubescent posturing, or do we have real art on our hands here?