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.


Anonymous said...

That's so typical of ├╝ber advertising nobs. I reckon you should send the said ad firm a short note just to let them know you're on to them.
Your "An Appropriate Response" entry would be an appropriate response to send, and a subtle slap in the face (assuming they have half a brain).

Sober Quasar

KJ said...

Just discovered your blog and look forward to reading more. On this particular subject, I refer to the appropriation of my work by others as 'sucking the life out of it then trying to make it theirs.' I'll never get used to the idea that this is acceptable art making, but who cares what I think? That said, nothing is original, and even I find myself admiring and adapting from others. Sad.