High-con­cept cut­ting and past­ing with Gucci.

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents -

IN SHANG­HAI, the land of coun­ter­feit lux­ury goods, an ex­hi­bi­tion ques­tion­ing the le­git­i­macy and ethics of orig­i­nal­ity and ap­pro­pri­a­tion in modern art is tak­ing place. Dreamt up by Alessan­dro Michele, the Gucci creative di­rec­tor, who reg­u­larly re­pur­poses iconic im­ages and lo­gos into col­lages for his col­lec­tions, and cu­rated by Ital­ian con­cep­tual artist Mau­r­izio Cat­te­lan, ev­ery­thing here is a copy. Or a copy of a copy. Even the show’s ti­tle,the Artist is Present, has been taken from a 2010 ex­hi­bi­tion by per­for­mance artist Ma­rina Abramovi´c. Here, Cat­te­lan ex­plains the con­cept be­hind the copy-and-paste. How did the col­laboration with Alessan­dro Michele come about? We’re both fas­ci­nated by the overlap be­tween th­ese two dif­fer­ent meth­ods of be­ing creative [art and fash­ion de­sign], and if it’s true that op­po­sites at­tract, I prom­ise our col­laboration is work­ing! We come from very di­verse back­grounds and modes of cre­ation. I find fash­ion fas­ci­nat­ing for its dou­ble na­ture — on one hand, it’s a re­ally ad­vanced in­dus­trial and eco­nomic sys­tem, in­volv­ing so

many peo­ple in the pro­duc­tion chain. On the other, it seems to be de­pend­ing on one head only, which is the creative di­rec­tor’s head — she or he has to make rapid and in­stinc­tual choices, on which all those peo­ple rely. I work in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way — I pre­fer not to be bound to any­one who counts on my in­spi­ra­tion to make a liv­ing — that’s why I al­ways avoided hav­ing a stu­dio. The con­cept be­hind the cu­rated col­lec­tion of art­works is ‘The copy is

the orig­i­nal’. What does this mean to you? It’s a con­cept as old as hu­man­ity it­self. Copy­ing has to do with the trans­mis­sion and dif­fu­sion of knowl­edge, both be­tween con­tem­po­raries and to those who haven’t been born yet. An­cient Ro­mans end­lessly copied the clas­si­cal Greek stat­ues be­cause they wanted to make it pos­si­ble for ev­ery­one — from the se­na­tor to the black­smith — to ad­mire them. More re­cently, we’ve been through years when pri­vate prop­erty, and then copy­right­ing, has been such an es­sen­tial prin­ci­ple against other ide­olo­gies that we now fail to recog­nise the value of the act of copy­ing.the shar­ing econ­omy, from [the now-de­funct peer-to-peer mu­sic file shar­ing ser­vice] Nap­ster on, seems to re­deem this sit­u­a­tion, and to re­con­sider copy­ing as a dec­la­ra­tion of es­teem, even ro­man­tic. My newsagent says:“start copy­ing what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy,youwillfind­y­our­self”. How will the works in the ex­hi­bi­tion sup­port the theme? Each work on show has a dif­fer­ent re­la­tion­ship with the con­cept of copy­ing. To me, it was im­por­tant to wit­ness the most com­pre­hen­sive range pos­si­ble of re­pro­duc­tion and ap­pro­pri­a­tion. There will be re­peated ac­tions, iden­tity ex­changes, copies of por­traits and huge mas­ter­pieces from the past re­pro­duced on a smaller scale. What do you hope the viewer will gain from ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this ex­hi­bi­tion? I’m rather kind of old­school in my think­ing that af­ter an artist does his work, it’s no longer his — I see what peo­ple make of it. It’s the same with an artist-cu­rated ex­hi­bi­tion. My hope for this ex­hi­bi­tion is that it finds its way to the West be­cause it would be in­ter­est­ing to com­pare and con­trast the feed­back on the is­sue of copy­ing from au­di­ences in such a cul­tur­ally di­verse part of the world.

THE ARTIST IS PRESENT Un­til De­cem­ber 16, Yuz Mu­seum, 35 Fenggu Road, Xuhui Dis­trict, Shang­hai. yuzmshang­

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