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Paris Collage Collective Surrealist Dreams showcase

Enter other realms through a selection of highlights from the Paris Collage Collective Surrealist Dreams collage challenge.

Paris Collage Collective is an online community of collage makers, who respond to regular creative challenges. These challenges are prompted by an image – and these images are often from our collections. People can edit the images in any way they like, and come up with absolutely wild and beautiful results. Check Paris Collage Collective out on Instagram for examples of people’s work.

“[I]t is a very accessible artform ... You need neither prior skills nor expensive tools. Anyone can do it anywhere they are.” Read an interview with Paris Collage Collective’s Petra Zehner

The Surrealist Dreams challenge

We sent Paris Collage Collective a selection of photos from our collection, chosen by our photography curator, Athol McCredie. They then chose five for the challenge, and called out for entries Jun–Aug 2021 during the European summer/Aotearoa takurua takuruawinterMāori | noun.

The selected photos

A photo of a hand-cranked concrete mixer from the 1930s. It was chosen as one of five photographs from Te Papa’s collection for Paris Collage Collective members to collage into new images that speak of surrealist dreams.

Without planning it that way, the concrete mixer turned out to be nicely suggestive. Throw some images into it, churn it around, and see what comes out. The result may not seem to make sense, but maybe it does.

Is this how dreams themselves are formed? When we sleep, do neurons ping unprocessed images and experiences around the brain? And does the unconscious then assemble and juxtapose these fragments via opaque rules into the short sequences that seem so potentially meaningful yet baffling to the waking mind?

The collage artist shows us what, for the surrealists, a higher level reality (the sur-real) looks like. It’s a place where everyday rational thinking has to be abandoned for the fantastical logic of the dream.

– Athol McCredie, Curator Photography

The results

Almost 600 people submitted an entry. Paris Collage Collective chose 70 which will feature in a book that they’re publishing. Athol also chose his favourites, which we’ve put together as a slideshow below.

View the Paris Collage Collective selection of entries and the original photos