Laura Bergin is a Master’s student of Visual, Material and Museum Anthropology at the University of Oxford. The images presented here come from her project Portraits of War: A Collagic Remediation of the Work of Stephen Warner.
“I created this on-going project, titled Portraits of War: A Collagic Remediation of the Work of Stephen Warner, while studying for a master’s degree in Visual, Material, and Museum Anthropology at the University of Oxford. I first encountered the work of Stephen Warner while completing my Mellon Scholar research project in 2016, which resulted in the creation of a curated exhibition titled Bodies in Conflict: From Gettysburg to Iraq. Studying the fruitful, if tenuous, relationship between the disciplines of art and anthropology at Oxford, I once again turn to the captivating work of Stephen Warner.
The Portraits of War project investigates the intersections of artistic and anthropologic practice through the employment of collage as both a methodology and an analytic tool. Utilising the extensive collection of Warner’s photographs and letters, housed in the Gettysburg College Special Collections archive, the project explores the relationship between text and image within artistic and anthropologic notions of the aesthetic. Challenging the iconophobic tendencies of anthropologic research, the four images, titled ‘Portraits of War’, ‘Image as Text and Text’, ‘Letters to Esther’, and ‘The Remanence of War’, examine the collage’s ability to convey, as well as actively participate in the production of anthropologic knowledge.
Inspired by Clifford’s (1988) examination of the collage within ethnographic surrealism, each collage represents an assemblage of text and image in which the processes of deconstruction and subsequent reconstruction comprises the semantic meaning of the works themselves. Designed to be exhibited together, the project becomes a collage of collages, as the four images communality participate in the creation and dissemination of knowledge.”