Besides the Écriture automatique, the ‘automatic writing’, the circle of the Surrealists used a second, lesser-known method of creative expression and inspiration. This second method was the technique of Cadavre Exquis whose macabre little translation is ‘exquisite corpse’. While the Écriture automatique can be utilised by one person, the Cadavre Exquis requires at least two or more. One person starts with a drawing or text, once ready the paper is folded, leaving a small part visible. The next person then continues unaware of the preceding component. This process is continued until the paper is completely covered. The result was always a surprising and unpredictable conglomerate, which was open to discussion and a variety of interpretations.
In literature and visual art this method of dialogic work between several artists has been further developed since the 1920s, when Cadavre Exquis was still in its early stages. Since then the method has been adopted in various forms and has generated a variety of results of collaborative work.
The artist Kristina Bengtsson and Katharina Kiebacher have adopted this method of collaboration in their work Cutting a Cake presented at Rummet, Fotogalleri Format. The two artist present a book which was created over two years while living in different cities throughout Europe. Instead of collaborative drawing they used photographic images to create a chain of associations as a reflection of their particular view on photography. The piece is presented in bookform with 23 images which cover a whole range of photographic topics: Still life, portraiture, architecture and landscape. Bengtsson and Kiebacher worked mainly with images from their respective photo archives, with occasional images created specifically for the book. The English title Cutting a Cake, expresses the idea of a joint whole assembled from individual parts. But unlike a cake or a pie, every piece has a different flavour and follows a different recipe.
Kristina Bengtsson (b 1979) is an artist based in Copenhagen. She is educated at Glasgow School of Art, Scotland.
Katharina Kiebacher (b 1974) is an artist based in Berlin. She is educated at Folkwangeschule, Essen, Germany and Glasgow School of Art, Scotland.