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  • Writer's pictureKara Mshinda

A Series Titled "Meta"

Updated: May 3, 2021

At the end 2019, I thought long and hard about how I could incorporate my abstract drawings into my collage work. One of my colleagues told me that it's ok if the different practices and art forms don't combine. That relieved me, yet, I still had this desire to merge the two practices together. The idea to alter images with abstract line art came to me one late night.

Image: White pigment ink on paper. Source: Coach advertisement, Vogue, March 2019

So, I began altering images that I encountered in fashion magazines. I photographed my drawings using different filters and then created a series of photo prints. Using the photo prints, I began to create collages that included doubles of the same image. These weren't duplicated images. Each image, even if it was the same person, had a slight variation. Viewing the photos together made me think about the concept of mimesis.

Anthropologist, Michael Taussig, elucidates this idea in his Mimesis and Alterity (1993). In his work, Taussig aligns mimesis with cultural appropriation--a process where one culture adopts some aspect of another's culture (dress, speech, and rituals are common) and claims it as its own. This process often occurs in sociocultural contexts of post-colonialism where one group holds hegemony over others. I realized that what I was creating or at least attempting to create were not collages only about mimicry or imitations of images. Rather, they were collages about the self-referential. I decided to name this series of collage artworks, "Meta."

Meta is a prefix that translates from Greek to English as "change." In the last 20 years, the prefix has shifted to into an independent word meaning the self-referential. The use of this definition grew in relation to the concept of "memes." In this series, I use the meta concept to explore the idea of the multiple self. The line art that appears on faces of models and actors is meant to represent the complexities of identity and that the personal self is one that forms, reforms, branches, and changes from moment to moment.

Like my other series, Meta is an ongoing project. My creative process is an emergent one. I figure things out as I create. I'm curious to see what techniques or new visual elements will emerge in my future work.

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