Seeing and talking about the Barnie Page-curated Genuine Articles show is one thing. Trying to make sense of the graphical flowering of links, images, reference points and ‘spaces’ in its infinity mirror of metanarratives is another. Right now, I have two browser windows open with about 10 tabs each (not including pop-ups) featuring information that is all somehow related to the subject at hand. The subject at hand being an exhibition of art documentation about an exhibition of art documentation that also features art documentation of exhibitions about art documentation, if you follow.
Running at London’s Jupiter Woods from October 2 to 25, Genuine Articles explores the aura of the artist and/or the artwork via its boundless reproductions, recontextualisations and reappropriations made possible by the internet. Spreading itself across platforms, namely the ‘real life’ location of the exhibition space and the online documentation thereof on a specially built website, the show draws from myriad artworks where their original, or ‘genuine’ sources have become so abstracted by the fracturing logic of the network that any notion of authorship becomes, as the press release states, “questionable and difficult to place, and at times of no importance”.
Hence, Barnie Page’s ‘this ain’t soda pop, dude!‘ (2014) sculpture at the centre of the Jupiter Woods space, where a black and blue mesh wastepaper basket filled with empty black and blue Monster Energy Absolutely Zero cans respond to Cory Arcangel‘s instructions to Ryan Gander on recreating one of his own sculptures called ‘To Protect Space’ (2011). The Arcangel original featured limited edition Tron Coke cans which a cashpoor Gander reconfigured into ‘Enjoy Responsibly’ (2012) to save on shipping for his Ampersand installation in Paris. That “cover version” featured a bin that colour-matched the Bacardi Superior and Zero Calorie Cola of his own chosen beverage.
Hanging on the wall to the right of Page’s trashcan (if you’re facing the wall of Mona Lisa postcards, souvenirs and accessories) an A4 print-out, ‘Yin Yang Rock’, is credited to “various artists” and lacks a date of production. That’s because if you traced the original scultpture (now lost) back to its source (as Page did through Google’s “search by image function”), through the NO PERMISSION/ABSOLUTE HEARTBREAK exhibition – where Andreas Banderas reproduced it and Ben Vickers commissioned it – and Carmen Mueck who sculpted it before, you’d find that ‘Ying Yang Rock’ was in fact a meteorite that fell to earth in 1860. The universe itself is it’s author.
On the opposite wall from the fallen rock facsimile is a wall-length print of an image of Joey Villemont and Camille le Houzec‘s Screenplay exhibition held at Glasgow’s SWG3 Gallery. Giving the illusion of a three-dimenional extension to the Jupiter Woods space, it’s a flattened photo of a physical exhibition that was itself a representation of digitised art documentation – including that of Simon Denny, Philip Timischl and Anne de Vries among others – originally (or is it secondarily?) presented on Villemont and Houzec’s online exhibition space, itsourplayground.com.
Then there’s ‘Emily’s Video Reactions‘ by Eva and Franco Mattes screening reactions to the “worst video ever” from a TV in the corner that’s facing a wall. The source of its viewer’s distress was a film found in the deep web and promptly destroyed, so “the second hand experiences are the only proof of its existence” on YouTube. With that its the second hand experience of said second hand experience that an IRL audience becomes witness to at Jupiter Woods, as only one person at a time can view the video in the tight spot between the white wall and the screen. That’s where you consider Genuine Articles and each object, or each image of an object, or each image of an image of an image of an object becoming merely a reflection of a particular historical, cultural, physical, even emotional context. Because at any given time an artwork, whether ‘genuine’ or not, is less a reflection of its author than the position of the person that’s looking at it. **
Exhibition photos, top right.