Copy As Original: Artistic Practice Before and After Appropriation


Contemporary art can be approached through actions that challenge the classic notion of originality and authenticity. Artistic actions regarding authenticity reversals were rather pluralistic before the Appropriation Art movement of the late 1970s. The first part of the research reviews key actions spanning from the Readymade use of utilitarian objects as art to the question of the power of authorship and knowledge in the postmodernist movement of the 1970s. Such investigations revealed evidence for both the practice and theoretical aspects of the Art Appropriation movement. Instead of providing a comprehensive, the second part of the research analyzes two case studies: the American-born, Paris-based artist Sturtevant and the Canadian art trio General Idea. With the discovery of Sturtevant's repetition of pre-existing works from the 1950s to the 1980s, the discussion aims to distinguish the blurred recognition between “copy” and “appropriation”. Subsequently, the work of General Idea, such as the “Imagevirus,” reveals the post-appropriation era of the late 1980s. Rather than reworking the works of others, these artists appropriated mass media’s approach to disseminating information to the public. By comparing these two sets of works, this research, on one hand, traces the progress of the appropriation strategy: from object-based recreation to informative dissemination; from personal critics to technology intervention; from work of individuals to questioning the role of institutions. It attempts to look forward to the role of artistic practice and institutions in an age when originality is outdated, and the assembly of knowledge is not exclusively dominated by authorities and museums.

Author Information
Ruohong Wu, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain

Paper Information
Conference: KAMC2023
Stream: Arts Practices

This paper is part of the KAMC2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Wu R. (2023) Copy As Original: Artistic Practice Before and After Appropriation ISSN: 2436-0503 – The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture 2023: Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon