words Zarah Cheng
All artworks by Jordan Westre.
Over the decades, collage has evolved into a medium that delivers visceral stories and explores the concept of re-use. Using images from vintage and alternative print media, Jordan Westre composes collages that scrutinize the dichotomy of utopia and dystopia while also incorporating a discussion of drug culture and modern sexuality. Producing works under the name, Living Couch, Westre’s collages are filled with layers of meaning that will make you consider and reconsider what you see on the surface.
Where are you from?
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
You produce your works under the moniker, Living Couch. What is the meaning behind this name?
I don't really remember. I think I came up with it one night in Victoria while I was sitting on my couch on mushrooms drawing, realizing for the first time that I should move forward with my art. Bringing life to these weird little entities while I was relaxing and melting away. It just stuck. I never think about it.
What mediums do you use?
I've dabbled with so many but obviously, collage reigns supreme. It suits my impatience and need for quick work. A single painting will take me months because I can't commit. But aside from physical cut-and-paste collage, for which I use clippings from vintage and alternative print media and various glazes/adhesives, I do work here and there with ink pens and acrylics.
How would you describe your collages?
They're evolving. When I first started collaging I was heavily layering magazine clippings, photos, pressed flowers, confetti, nail polish. You name it, I was using it. Slowly, as I'm exposed to other artists working in this style, I've been turning towards more simplified compositions. I'm more interested now in creating something seamless. My collages always have a story to tell.
Many of your works explore female sexuality. Why is this important?
I feel like the focus is more on approaching ideas of utopia and dystopia with my work. The sexuality that arises plays into that, of course, but that might be a result of my being drawn to nude imagery as a jumping-off point for starting a work. It's easy to build a scene around a nude because it allows the most freedom for playing with ideas of vulnerability, power, comfort: in a word, human nature. Sexuality is key in the human experience; I would have trouble ignoring that if I wanted to.
Collage has often been used by artists like Hannah Höch and Richard Hamilton to present powerful social commentaries. What issues are most important to you?
The preservation of nature. Drug culture and demonization of alternative lifestyles. Modern sexuality.
What do you hope people take away from your work?
An increased tendency to look at and consider things in new contexts. That's what collage is all about - taking something that exists in a definite reality and changing or subverting that entirely. Nothing is ever final. Each element can take on a million different lives. Just to have people think about that, the infinite possibilities. It's a scary sense of freedom. I love it.
Who are you listening to right now?
At this moment, Bubble Puppy's "I've Got to Reach You". Austin band from the late 60s. In general these days, a lot of Ty Segall, Allah Lahs, Goat. I’m a huge fan of that umbrella term, "psych".
It’s Friday night. Where are you going?
Hey, it IS Friday! And it's Halloween! I'll be at the Rickshaw. I'm more of a homebody than I'd like to admit but if I'm out on the weekends, I'm at one of a handful of venues around Vancouver. Live music is my crutch.
What creeps you out the most?
Seeing an empty staircase next to a crowded escalator.
YOU CAN ALSO CHECK OUT