By Dave Beech
Dave Beech, “Mrs Sha'ninah, Baja California Norte, Rosarito, Mexico”, 2023
When News Hit Shore
The U.N.O. Gallery and the School of the Arts are pleased to present an exhibition of collage work by Dave Beech, in conjunction with Kolaj Fest, New Orleans.
Beech makes montages from photographs cut out of an archive of books that he collects from second-hand bookshops. Books are one of the ways in which photos pass into the world as things to be carried, held, moved, stored, owned, gifted, cherished, thumbed and passed around. Sourcing photobooks from charity shops and second hand bookshops means collecting pictures that were once owned by diverse members of the community. The second hand bookshop is vernacular library or archive. They often show traces of their locale - local history books, local authors, local industries etc but also contain books about foreign travel, international events, the natural world and anthropological studies. These montages, therefore, are a portrait of that community through a representation of its interests, values, preferences, fascinations and biases. Beech uses photobooks as an archive of people, places, events and things that are more than isolated facts when they are combined, aggregated, organized and interwoven into new patterns, new relations and new narratives. This is a practice of making meaning and storytelling in which the narrator is missing and therefore the viewer is invited to construct the links themselves either from their own knowledge of events or from great imaginative leaps.
Dave Beech was born into a working class community in northwest England in the mid-1960s. He was the first member of his family to go to university. Lacking the cultural capital that art students tended to demonstrate, he compensated by spending a greater and greater proportion of his time in the library. His preference for the library over the studio initially led to him becoming a theoretically supercharged artist but since 2017 he has turned his office into a studio that is both a library of picture books and a space to make photomontages from them.
Join gallery director and curator Tony Campbell for a gallery talkon June 10th at 1pm as he discusses the collage work of Dave Beech at the exhibition, as part of Kolaj Fest.
The exhibition will be on display from June 10th through June 25th, 2023.
With an opening reception on Saturday, June 10, from 6:00 - 9:00 pm.
The exhibition is free and open to the public.
Gallery hours are Saturdays and Sundays, 12:00 - 5:00 pm.
U.N.O. St Claude gallery is 2429 St. Claude Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70117