Expecting the Unexpected—The Role of Art in the Dissemination of Radical Hope

Patrick J. Reed

Abstract: In my artworks-on-paper, I use collage to demonstrate a subversive model for inclusive, non-hierarchical, non-subjugating modes of social and environmental consciousness. I rely on this fundamentally anarchic and queer aesthetic tradition for its ability to amalgamate and ally incongruities in profoundly unexpected ways.

The motivations behind my creative endeavours are jointly informed by two lines of thought.

One is Ben Nicholson’s notion of “collage thinking” as proposed in his book Appliance House from 1990, in which he wrote “Collage is part of everyone’s experience and, however well it is understood, it seems to refer to a group of ephemeral things brought together by a logic that disturbs, or negates, the status of the individual elements.” The other is Timothy Morton’s concept of “dark ecology,” in which all things have the potential to coexist in an exquisite state of bittersweet bliss and “pain without suffering,” a state of mind that is erotic, spiritual, and particularly attuned to collusions of the biosphere.

Collage, and by extension collagist thinking, promotes an uncomfortable balance that is applicable in an ecological dimension and has the potential to be radically more open and ethical as a mindset than the attitude of comfortable imbalance that is pervasive among the late late capitalism of the West—and therein lies the hope.

How do you define radical hope?

Radial hope is the willingness to accept and initiate radical empathy, radical capacity, radical  partnership, and the radically unforeseen with the hope the one has the strength to do so.

How do you see radical hope emerging or playing out in your case study?

This project is my contribution to the campaign of radical hope as I have defined it above. My artworks demonstrate the ecological implications of collage, and function as catalysts for engaging others in contemplating the queer ontological shift engendered by collage thinking.

Readings and Resources (that exhibit or are sympathetic to the possibilities of collage thinking):

  • Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics. Paris: Les Presse Du Reel, 1998.
  • Burroughs, William S. Naked Lunch. New York: Grove Press, 1992.
  • Cage, John. 4’ 33”. Leipzig: C.F. Peters Ltd. & Co. KG, 2012.
  • Cage, John. Litany for the Whale. Leipzig: C.F. Peters Ltd. & Co. KG, 1980.
  • Caulfield, Sean. The Flood, 2016. Hand-carved woodblock panel. 6 x 9 m. Edmonton, Alberta, Art Gallery of Alberta.
  • de Maria, Walter. The Lightning Field, 1977. Land art work. 1 mile x 1 kilometre. Catron Country, New Mexico.
  • Morton, Timothy. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World.Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.
  • Scriabin, Aleksandr. Mysterium, 1903-1915. New York: G. Schirmer, Inc. 1915.
  • Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. London: Penguin Classics, 2003.
  • Solaris. Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. 1972. New York: The Criterion Collection, Inc., 2002. DVD.


One Reply to “Expecting the Unexpected—The Role of Art in the Dissemination of Radical Hope”

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