Tuesday, October 31, 2006
An Appropriate Response
I found myself stuck in traffic, staring ahead at two mobile billboards attached to the backs of Italian motor-scooters. Each billboard had the same ad: two good-looking women in a glamorised fight pose. The slogan was something along the lines of Designer vs Designer. The figures, and even the phrasing, was very familiar, even though I hadn't seen the ad before. The angles of the limbs, the facial expressions, even the position of the hands looked like pieces of a puzzle that I had created but that someone else had assembled in a different way. Quite simply, they were a collage of two of my best-known paintings – one from 1999, another from a 2004 series, Self vs Self. It was a curious, empty feeling. I suppose a lot of people might have been flattered. Others might have been annoyed. I was neither. I only regretted not having my camera with me. I could have taken a very cool black and white shot through the dirty windscreen of my van.It did make me think back to the conceptual-centric art school I went to, and about postmodernism, and the over-appropriative culture in which we live now. In the past, a number of people have told me about both advertisements and artworks that have looked incredibly similar to mine. I've even had the 'pop-eating-itself' experience of seeing an Australian artist's painting appropriated from an ad that, in turn, had been appropriated without any substantial alteration from one of my early works – and each time, the central figure (originally my own, twisted self-portrait) was reproduced, it lost not only anatomical accuracy, but intensity, and ultimately, meaning. Which pretty much sums up contemporary culture for me.