[rumori] the simple and post-modern

From: Steev Hise (steevATdetritus.net)
Date: Thu May 31 2001 - 13:02:58 PDT

ok, let's revisit the original (sub)thread:

first chris said:
"When you recreate something that closely, in what way is it
yours? How does it have value?"

Then Dan said:
It's just art. It's entirely subjective. That's the bottom

I said:
>"that's simplifying and "post-modernizing" the issue a
little bit too much,

Dan said:
>Why is that "too" much? Too much for what? Why is simple a
problem? And ->what exactly do you mean by "post-modern?"
Anyway, how would you say a work ->has value "when you
recreate something that closely?"

Ok, so, to answer your questions:

I won't go into exactly what i mean by "post-modern". That's
too big a question right now. But, the part of
post-modernism I was referring to is the tendency to
over-simplify and the "it's all good" syndrome.

The problem with portraying things as simple when they're
not simple is that you're just wrong. inaccurate. Chris
asked a very provocative, interesting question about a
complicated issue. But as soon as you invoke that tired
"it's just art" stance, you stunt all further thought or
discussion on the topic. yeah, this is ALL just art. so
let's not talk about it at all. Maybe I should just shut
down this list? It's art. We're done.


Back to the original question. "How does a work
have value when you recreate something that closely?"

Another thing postmodernism does is erase the notion of
value. all works are equal, everything is okay, everyone has
their own personal preference, end of story. I'm not
anti-post-modern, but i think that particular idea is pretty
detrimental. There is good and bad. It's not absolute, but I
think one way a culture grows and thrives is by its
participants communicating with each other about value,
about which cultural artifacts are things they value and why
and how much, collectively developing a set of criteria and

So, to really get to the question. I think Vicki had a great
answer -- the idea that cover versions often have the
imprint of the covering artist. I would add that a lot of
the "added value" of the "copy" is in the context or

Take Sherrie Levine's work in the 80s - photographs of
famous paintings by famous male art superstars. She placed
these exact copies in the context of a critique of the
male-dominated art world. That had value. (And I'm not just
saying that, she made a very big splash with those pieces).

Or on the pop cultural end, check out the Donnas' recent
cover of Judas Priest's "Living After Midnight". It's a
pretty straight cover. The vocals even sound pretty similar
to Rob Halford's. But somehow I think it's an interesting
thing just for this group of women in the year 2000 to be
doing that early 80s cockrock metal song. Maybe not THAT
interesting, but there's SOMETHING there, and that something
is about context.

Back to the fine art world - look at Elmyr DeHory, he's been
mentioned here before, the most famous art forger in
history. He's so famous that his fakes are sought by
collectors AS FAKES. His Picassos, Chagalls, Matisses sell
for many thousands of dollars. Not as much as if someone
thought they were genuine. But he's created value in his
own work simply by being so good and so famous at simulating
others' work. That's pretty remarkable. And that's about
context too. Someone could show me a deHory and say "this is
a fake Picasso." And if I didnt know it was deHory, i'd
probably say, "ah, looks pretty much like Picasso. but
since it's not, it's worthless, right?" But i'd be wrong!

I don't know if this answers the question completely. I
don't know if that's possible. But it continues the
dialogue, and that's better, i think, than just saying,
"it's art, period."



Steev Hise, Head Chump
steevATdetritus.net http://detritus.net/steev
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