The Landscape of the Body

Sammy Slabbinck
Some of my favourite artworks of the present century are the marvellous collages created by the Belgian artist Sammy Slabbinck. Using found images from magazines dating from the 1950’s to the 1970’s that he collects from flea markets, Slabbinck skilfully re-combines the elements to create wryly humorous, slyly subversive and sometimes unsettling, subtly horrifying works.

Citing influences from Pop Art, Dada and Surrealism, in particular fellow Belgian Surrealist giant Rene Magritte (The Object of the EyeThe Human Condition and Pleasure), Slabbinck’s frequently colour-saturated collages play with size and scale: magnified parts of female bodies form part of a landscape which tiny men journey towards or galaxies are contained within cereal bowls which the perfect 60’s mother and daughter is sitting down at the breakfast table to consume.  The resultant images are startlingly lush with a trippiness that achieves the defamiliarization that is the aim of all Surrealist art.

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34 thoughts on “The Landscape of the Body

  1. I particularly like the ones where the body is blended into the landscape. Somewhat subtly hidden in the ‘mountains’ are the smooth curves of the lovely female form. Clever and very creative. I marvel at an eye that sees beyond the ordinary and can compose work like this from it. You’ve used his images before, nice background, Cake.

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    1. I have used his images several times before, he fits nicely into Cakeland so I thought it was about time to do a short article. I love the bodies blended into the landscape, hence the title. Very clever and very creative, I am pleased that collages are making a comeback and that Slabbinck is leading the way.

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      1. I’m not sure what I think about collage in general but I like this. And the other collage artist you featured whose name escapes me… lived with his mother I think. Anyway, this was excellent.

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      2. Joseph Cornell who did the assemblage boxes. The Surrealists pretty much invented collages so of course I am partial. The technique was used as cut-ups by William Burroughs in writing and as sampling in music. If you wanted to go all philosophical on it you could say it the Hegelian dialectic applied to the arts: thesis+antithesis=synthesis (I have just made that up so I am probably wrong about that).

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  2. I like them eating planets. Or galaxies or whatever they were eating. That one makes me happy for some reason. Lol. The bodies among the mountains are very good too. I would climb some curves… or towers…๐Ÿ˜ˆ

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      1. I don’t either. But I have an excellent imagination. In fact, I have seen the perfect place for a collage of this sort – except with a tower. ๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. True and this criticism is levelled at Surrealism a lot with good cause. An endless self-referential loop. However Burroughs saw his cut-ups as an of magic, an alchemical practice. However the point that allows the re-packaging of previous eras and decades (the whole DJ and hip-hop culture) continuing an exhausted culture to carry on is probably spot-on. I am, however, very partial to collage.


  3. It wasn’t meant as a criticism, but I see what you mean. Cultural recycling was in fact often criticised by Baudrillard. I shall have to dig something out soon and post it. Like yourself, I’m rather skeptical of such complaints. Baudrillard seemed to me to suffer from an illusion that there were originary points to lose in the first place.

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    1. It is a fair point, the Surrealists were all good Marxists by and large but a lot of the techniques were co-opted by the advertising industry which produced a slick packaging for advanced capitalism. Originality is a very modern idea, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance always tried to make anything original look like it was borrowed. I have to read Baudrillard, Ballard mentioned that America is a brilliant book. They must have settled their beef at some point before.


      1. That’s decided. I shall post a few things on Baudrillard in the coming weeks. I’ve been reading some new purchases lately. His move away from Marx and towards Nietzsche is refreshing during this current phase of left/right polarisation.

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    2. I didn’t take it as a criticism, I always like a debate about these points. It makes me think outside of my own personal likes and dislikes and hopefully I can, if not persuade, at least provoke on the other side.

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