CACA, a loose acronym which alternately stands for “Calarts collage association”,”Calarts collage club,” and finally “ Calarts collage associates”, yet which ultimately is the english colloquial for “poop” (caca) is an informal group which explores collage as a medium utilized to free oneself up and creating a time and space for form-making outside of formal curricula. Members folded in independent study classes with faculty, as well as exploring syllabi from other classes in their approaches to collage, as well.
According to co-founder Laura Bernstein, CACA is based on the tenet that, “We wanted to make a community around making, a space for discussion and critique, but without the feeling of judgement that one experiences in the crib room.” The rigors of design education can be frustrating and collaging was a way for students to enjoy time chatting and making visual form fun again.
Collage is another entry point to creation, a way to attempt the impractical in real time. The practice has continued after school, most notably for Bernstein, “It really opened up the world of textures and colors, and thinking about the relationships between them. You can experiment in a very hands-on way, where on the computer you don’t have the necessary looseness. I think that is one of the reasons people like to collage.”
CACA after graduation has a cathartic edge which is palpable: “We don’t have a client, we don’t have an agenda, we just have a pile of stuff, we eat dinner, drink and make collages. Ultimately, that’s it.”
The ‘collage club’ format has been extended into local art centers for youth, as well as into Bernstein’s thesis project, “Think about what that word (collage) means: to bring things together, to re-appropriate and give them new life.”
Ultimately the project is larger than its sum parts, “CACA is when we sit down and collage, it’s not when we put our designer hats on. It’s an interesting problem, an interesting thing to talk and think about. We fetishize books. We love beautiful objects. We want a beautifully printed and bound thing. CACA doesn’t want to be a thing. It’s so close, but it just won’t let itself, which I think is really wonderful. Who knows what’s going to happen next year; it could take a completely different form. It’s what you get out of it, and what you need from it, and everyone needs something different.”
This interview appeared in issue 360 of Idea Magazine, as part of a special section on the Graphic Design program at CalArts.