Orig­i­nal Copy

Im­i­ta­tion is the sin­cer­est form of flat­tery at Mau­r­izio Cat­te­lan and Gucci’s bound­ary­blur­ring ex­hi­bi­tion, “The Artist is Present”. By Dana Koh

Harper's Bazaar (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Wait a minute. Haven’t we al­ready seen “The Artist is Present”, an ex­hi­bi­tion that gained wide­spread ac­claim un­der the hands of per­for­mance artist Ma­rina Abramovic? That was the ques­tion run­ning through the heads of fash­ion and art cognoscenti alike, upon re­ceiv­ing news of an art col­lab­o­ra­tion of the same name—this time, be­tween satir­i­cal artist, Mau­r­izio Cat­te­lan and Gucci’s Alessan­dro Michele.

Like its ti­tle, the en­tire ex­hi­bi­tion is an in­ten­tional act of ap­pro­pri­a­tion, ad­dress­ing how orig­i­nal­ity can be achieved through the art of repli­ca­tion or rep­e­ti­tion, and how orig­i­nals can be pre­served, and some­times even re­vived, through copies.Art­works by over 30 artists walk, blur and cross the lines be­tween au­then­tic­ity and im­i­ta­tion, all in an at­tempt to ex­plore the age of un­apolo­getic copy­ing that hat we live in, ques­tion­ing the most hal­lowed prin­ci­ples of art to­day.“Copy­ing ying is like a blas­phemy: It could seem not re­spect­ful to­wards God, but at t the same time is the sig­ni­fica­tive recog­ni­tion of its ex­is­tence,” said Cat­te­lan, telan, who repli­cated the Sis­tine Chapel in 1:6 scale, mak­ing Michelan­gelo’s mas­ter­piece sud­denly ul­tra-ac­ces­si­ble and seen in Shang­hai. Sac­ri­le­gious? ? Ar­guably so, but it is also ge­nius in the way this res­ur­rects the re­la­tion­ship be­tween art and au­di­ence, al­beit through warped and won­drous ways.And And isn’t that the crux of what art is—to be seen and to in­spire? Harper’s BAZAAR AZAAR speaks to the con­cep­tual cu­ra­tor about “The Artist is Present”, , on till 16 De­cem­ber at the Yuz Mu­seum in Shang­hai.

How did the col­lab­o­ra­tion with Alessan­dro Michele come me about?

We come from very di­verse back­grounds and modes of cre­ation. tion. I find fash­ion fas­ci­nat­ing for its dou­ble na­ture. On the 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/he has to make rapid and in­stinc­tual choices, on which all those peo­ple rely on. I work in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way; I pre­fer not to be bound to any­one that counts on my in­spi­ra­tion to make a liv­ing, that’s why I al­ways avoided hav­ing a stu­dio.We’re both fas­ci­nated by the over­lap be­tween these two dif­fer­ent meth­ods of be­ing cre­ative, and if it’s true that op­po­sites at­tract; I prom­ise our col­lab­o­ra­tion is work­ing!

How did you find work­ing with Michele, and what par­al­lels para did you dis­cover?

I Iw would say that he works on iconog­ra­phy, I work on icons.The ico et­y­mol­ogy is the same; we both adopt the lan­guage lan of images, a ter­ri­tory that ev­ery­one has the skills ski to ex­plore be­cause no al­pha­bet is in­volved.At the same sa time, no one will get the same sen­sa­tions and ex­pe­ri­ence e as his/her travel mate. Both Alessan­dro’s and a my jobs are to pull out mean­ing from this reign of the sub­jec­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tion and to make our prod­ucts sig­ni­fica­tive for more than one sea­son.

Can you please ex­plain the con­cept of “the copy is the orig­i­nal” in more de­tail?

It’s a con­cept as old ol as hu­man­ity it­self: Copy­ing has to do with the trans­mis­sion and di dif­fu­sion of knowl­edge, both to your con­tem­po­raries and for the ones that tha haven’t been born yet. An­tique 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 where 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 Nap­ster on, seems to re­deem this sit­u­a­tion, and to re­con­sider copy­ing. My newsagent says: “Start copy­ing what you love. Copy, copy, copy, copy. At the end of the copy, you will find your­self.”

How do the works in the ex­hi­bi­tion sup­port the theme?

Ev­ery 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’ ll be re­peated ac­tions, iden­tity ex­changes, copies of por­traits, huge mas­ter­pieces from the past re­pro­duced in a smaller scale. From time to time, it might be dif­fi­cult for the au­di­ence to re­trace how the works are linked to the orig­i­nal con­cept of the show, but I con­ceive ex­hi­bi­tions as a vis­ual or­gan­ism that makes sense as a whole. That's why it’s so dif­fi­cult to speak about them!

Which works stand out for you the most?

It’s hard to say. Of course, as a par­ent, you have your fa­vorite son, but it’s a se­cret you can’t even ad­mit to your­self. My opin­ion, gen­er­ally speak­ing, is that the best works al­ways seem to be done un­der a par­tic­u­lar ur­gency: They are all the trans­for­ma­tion of a per­sonal emer­gency into a pub­lic act. Those have the qual­ity to be sig­nif­i­cant in the fu­ture, and that’s the se­cret to tell apart mas­ter­piece from “mar­ket-piece.”

What do you hope view­ers will get out of see­ing and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing “The Artist is Present”?

I’m rather old-school, think­ing that when an artist does his work, it’s no longer his… I see what peo­ple make of it:The same is with an artist-cu­rated ex­hi­bi­tion. My hope for this ex­hi­bi­tion is to find the way to make it travel to the West—it would be very rel­e­vant to pos­si­bly com­pare and con­trast the feed­back on the is­sue of copy by au­di­ences from such a cul­tur­ally di­verse part of the world. ■

Clockwise from left: Artist and cu­ra­tor of “The Artist is Present”, Mau­r­izio Cat­te­lan.Un­ti­tled by Mau­r­izio Cat­te­lan. Ca­rina Lau and Alessan­dro Michele. Eter­nity by Xu Zhen. A Gucci Sylvie bag made of LEGO bricks by Andy Hung Chi-Kin. pink-blue by Kap­wani Ki­wanga. Liu Wen with a replica of the Hol­ly­wood sign. One of the rooms with (clockwise from top) Speech Bub­bles by Philippe Par­reno; Mol­lusk by Reena Spaul­ings; OVER AND OVER. OVER AND OVER. AND OVER AND OVER. AND OVER AND OVER. by Lawrence Weiner; andUn­ti­tled by Jose Dávila. The cat­a­logue in the form of a broad­sheet, calledThe New Work Times

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