Wednesday, November 26, 2014

So this is weird

My friend Marianne emailed me the other day about something else entirely and mentioned that she'd seen a page from Big Questions reproduced as an artwork in a monograph of the artist William Pope L. I had no idea what she was talking about. I poked around on the internet a bit and found that a print of the page (400, in case you're interested – a nice round number) had been on display in his show, Forlesen, at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago a year and a half ago. On their site it looks like this:
I don't really know quite what to make of this. One thought I had was "I've been Roy Lichtensteined." But that's really not true. Whatever this is, it's not an aestheticization of mass consumer culture (I just liked the idea of turning Lichtenstein's name into a verb). The other main thought I had was: I wish someone had bothered to tell me about it. I'd have liked to have seen the show. From everything I can tell, he's a thoughtful, provocative artist (another piece from the show, a wall of ketchup mixed with joint compound is pictured below). I am very interested in the ways an artwork ceases to belong to the artist when it moves out into the world, how, if it's really successful, ownership transfers, in a very real way, to its audience. And how that phenomenon might conflict with copyright law or with the artist's own self-interest. Meanings in art are never fixed.  Which can be messy. So I like the idea that that page can resonate with unintended meanings in a new context. Part of me feels honored. And yet, being completely honest... well, it's weird to be on the other side of the process. I wrote Mr. L today, so now I'm waiting to hear what he thinks.

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