Corpse Project

May 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Last summer, this blogger and a few others were involved in an “exquisite corpse” project.

© Jared Flood

© Jared Flood

The exquisite corpse is a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled, the result being known as the exquisite corpse or cadavre exquis. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule (e.g. “The adjective noun adverb verb the adjective noun“) or by being allowed to see the end of what the previous person contributed. The technique was invented by Surrealists and is similar to an old parlour game called Consequences in which players write in turn on a sheet of paper, fold it to conceal part of the writing, and then pass it to the next player for a further contribution. Surrealism principal founder André Breton reported that it started in fun, but became playful and eventually enriching. Breton said the diversion started about 1925, but Pierre Reverdy wrote that it started much earlier, at least before 1918. In a variant now known as picture consequences, instead of sentences, portions of a person were drawn. It has also been played by mailing a drawing or collage — in progressive stages of completion — to the players, and this variation is known as “exquisite corpse by airmail”, apparently regardless of whether the game travels by airmail or not. The name is derived from a phrase that resulted when Surrealists first played the game, “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau.” (“The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine.”)

© Jared Flood

© Jared Flood

© Jared Flood

In our case, we used knitting and a sweater template decided upon before anyone casted on. The knitters came from all different parts of the country with the link being we are all independent designers, friends, used the same yarn and were interested in trying something new without worrying about the end result. The following result was truly unique, a one-of-a-kind sweater with no pattern ever being made available. now residing in a museum in New York, the corpse is on view for all to see. Check it out!

© Jared Flood


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