Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Collage and Crisis: An interdisciplinary symposium on fragmentation and the European twentieth century avant-garde

2:00 pm to 6:00 pm, 26 May 2017

Collage and Crisis Image

Event Information

Open to



IAS Seminar Room 20, First Floor, South Wing, University College London Gower Street London, WC1E 6BT

We are pleased to share an invitation to this interdisciplinary symposium on fragmentation and the European twentieth century avant-garde. The symposium and performance is partially funded by the UCL IAS Octagon Small Grants Fund.

'Collage and Crisis?' aims to reconsider the critical tendency to associate aesthetic fragmentation with social upheaval in interwar Europe. The inclination towards collage was an artistic compulsion shared by visual artists, musicians, playwrights, and choreographers alike in this period, an impulse that has often been usefully interpreted as connected to socio-political fragmentation. However, this symposium aims to re-evaluate the potential for collage technique to be conversely a unifying practice, concerned with the fusing of media rather than their separation.

This symposium is being organised as part of Spectra Ensemble's production of the opera Collision, using the artist Kurt Schwitters' original libretto and newly composed music. Performances are being held on 24th and 25th May at the Greenwood Theatre, 55 Weston Street, London, SE1 3RA at 8.00pm and symposium participants are welcome to attend free of charge (emailing cecilia.stinton.16@ucl.ac.uk with their ticket request).  In his 1928 opera libretto Collision (Der Zusammenstoss), Schwitters appears to apply a collage technique directly to issues of socio-political upheaval through the interaction of various social 'types'. However, despite its rapid switches between locations and characters, Schwitters' project does not negate synthesis altogether, particularly since his chosen medium of opera performance itself demands the unification of multiple artistic practices. 

Programme (timings subject to change)


Cecilia Stinton (University College London), Lewis Coenen-Rowe (King's College London), Holly Muir (Princeton)
"The Composition and Staging of Kurt Schwitters' opera, Collision"

Dr Arabella Stanger, Lecturer in Drama: Theatre and Performance, University of Sussex
"Dancing on the Walls: Synthesis as Utopia in Schlemmer's Weimar Murals"

Giles Masters, PhD Candidate, Music, King's College London
"Festival Programming as Collaborative Collage: Defining 'Contemporary Music' through Juxtaposition at the Festivals of the International Society for Contemporary Music"


Niko Munz, Exhibition Assistant Curator, Royal Collection Trust, London
"Collecting as collage in German Pop art"

Keynote speaker: Dr Stina Barchan, Teaching Fellow, Art History, University College London "Empathy, agency and the fragment: the collaborative activities of Hannah Höch and Kurt Schwitters"

For further information, please contact cecilia.stinton.16@ucl.ac.uk

Please register here