Clunie Reid (born Pembury, 1971, lives in London) creates aggressive and rampant photo-collages that question the media they are created from, as well as the integrity of the source images which they employ. The artist uses deliberately cheap material, gaffer-taping her collages to the wall and emphasising the act of composition rather than the final product. In one group of works Reid takes photographs of her studio floor; in others airbrushed images of beautiful women are broken into fragments, scribbled over and adorned with slogans that resound with irony.
Reid's Beautiful (2008) shows a majorette, her facial features pixelated. The original poster was found and photographed by the artist in Venice, already defaced with blue biro scribbled over the figure's eyes, nose and mouth. On her legs appear jagged scrawls of pubic hair. The dancer is superimposed over a postcard picture of a Venice sunset, and across the top of the image Reid has written 'beautiful' in childlike lettering. These are the clichés that form one idea of beauty: flat-chested girls in glittery tops performing arabesques, tourist sites at sunset with Prosecco at the ready. Bringing together these overloaded signifiers of beauty compounds the indeterminacy of the original image - and especially of the woman's identity. This message is further complicated in the artist's messy but carefully accomplished installation, in which the work must be seen as one of many conflicting and competing images.
In her work for Nought to Sixty, however, Reid moves away from paper collage to create more sculptural juxtapositions, affixing different images and media fragments onto industrial foam board. In the same way that the artist uses standard paper sizes, here she uses generic wire picture hangers to suspend the collages, undermining their potential commodity status but also co-opting the same industrial standardisation that she critiques.
While Reid's debased, deskilled aesthetic challenges the ideologies that her source images support, it also enables a mode of performance: the quickness of execution reflecting the swiftness of thought, as well as its potential for change. Misspellings are left in place, or simply blacked out, as the artist carries on. If impermanence is one of the qualities of the fashion and celebrity economy, Reid performs this flux in her foam board collages, sites where information is exchanged and updated. The strength of Reid's works is not manifested in any single piece but in the multifarious accumulation of meaning, quickly tacked to the gallery wall.