*The initials of specific audience members.
Rupert Nuttle: I was reading last night about this theory concerning Duchamp’s work. In a way the work never arrives in the exhibition space. It’s constantly delayed. Whether he is using a readymade to stand in for an object, as a representation of that object, or whether he is obscuring meaning behind his systems. I think that in making a show where the primary emphasis is on 2012, on the present moment, that we find ourselves in a space that has been forcibly delayed in that way. It’s sort of like a historical vacuum, and the objects within it define an absence. In declaring the year 2012, particularly with the exclamation points afterwards, it’s a kind of anti-declaration of currency, where the only thing that draws the works into the space is their coinciding – the fact that they exist at the same time. At the same time as emphasizing the present moment I’m taking efforts within the work to obscure our definitions of that moment. […]
Audience *KH: I feel like a lot of this is a question of authorship, but also [of] experiencing, in 2012, these images that just clash. And our experience of the internet is [a] huge [part]. I’m looking at images that are so old, and I’m looking at images that were created yesterday on somebody’s Photoshop, and Internet memes, and images that go viral… That is what we, as young viewers, are experiencing. So to have these images together makes complete sense to me.
Audience *PR: Well, I thought they made sense, but on a slightly different tangent to yours – that [is] notions of appropriation. That’s where I was coming at this work – with an awareness… of artists using appropriation as a method of creating artifacts or products. […]
What’s the value of appropriation? We all do it on one level or another, and that’s what I thought the gist of this work was, but I was wrong.
RN: I think that appropriation, every time that you use it, you have to use it differently, because what you’re confronting yourself with is the task of reproducing something specific. You say we all do it on one level, and it’s true… I don’t know if you’re talking on a subconscious level, or…
A *PR: Well, on the level that art comes from art.
RN: When you make the decision that rather than art coming from art in terms of, ‘I’m going to take these styles and make them into my own thing’, when you make that decision of, ‘I’m going to take this work of art and make it again’, your strategy of appropriation has to be considerably sharpened and more precise, for the specific attributes of the work in question. […]
A *DF: That leads to another question which is – now I’m not saying one of these is better than the other one – but …[inaudible]… [to make a] reproduction of this famous art piece, I can print it out, or I can physically paint it… Is it more effective to create it out of the stuff that the original object was created out of? Or could I just have a representation on a card on the wall, like, ‘OK, I understand this is a symbol stand-in for this Marat or whatever’?
RN: It becomes specific to whatever the piece is. […] One of the ideas I think I’m trying to confuse in the show is: ‘What is the value of the material in a reproduction of something that already exists? When you reproduce it as a photograph, as a black and white photograph in a book, as a painting on the wall, where do your own values, as a viewer, position the new, or the copy? [How do you] position the false object? […]
A *DC: I actually find this idea of appropriation to be slightly distracting from other aspects of this show that I think are very instructional. […] You talked about the word delay, and I think painting and the formal issues of appropriation kind of function that way. But then I ask, and [I’m] quite satisfied in the show in bringing myself to read these almost narratively, allegorically, and if I can discard that kind of discourse, or at least I think what you’re trying to do is effect a reading that discards those issues – like it’s the ladder that I have to discard to get to them. […] When I read these three paintings I actually have very specific literal connections between them. I think I’m looking up the dress of that woman. I think that the cat becomes that. I think the gesture in the painting becomes the gesture of the woman falling. I think about this kind of obscenity of that… thing. I think about the framing issues in the Marat painting where Charlotte Corday, the murderer, the assassin, is framed out of the painting. And again we’re there to wallow in Christ’s wounds that have been transported to the secular. Even this [the Richter reproduction], where we move from windows to framing, to those types of things… There seems to be quite an elaborate narrative, and I find the book [Chrome Yel.] is very instructive in telling me how to approach reading images. […]
I’d agree with you that appropriation now in terms of the internet is something of a slight historical curiosity but it has much more the character of being able to lead us into other discussions nowadays because it’s not that strange. Neither is walking into a gallery and being confronted by variety or discontinuity. We shouldn’t be afraid of things that are different and incompatible. […]
RN: A relationship to images that marks our time is one of accepting total rupture between things. You can move from one thing to another and those things can be totally
different, totally contradictory. Nonetheless you as the viewing subject will move seamlessly between them. […]
A: It’s just like looking at a Tumblr.
A *AL: I think it’s really enjoyable how much you short-circuit in the show in terms of expectations around exhibition spaces, and what we expect from somebody who’s graduating from art school, in respect to painting. As opposed to the notion of a singular style, it points out many different ways of generating meaning. I never think about these works that are being referred to as copies of an original because of these interventions that you have brought to them. Here, with the Richter painting, this sort of sculpture-painting connection where you’re putting this homage to Carl Andre’s Lever underneath it, or the minimalist notion of stacking patio stones under the Marat painting… how that’s another way of conflating some of the expectations around authorship and generating new meaning through juxtapositions. I think that’s a fairly intriguing component about how to work with this rich history that obviously you’re paying a homage to, but also reconfiguring for the present, and deflating, and rising up at the same time, dropping paintings to the floor, putting them on bricks… They have meanings aside from their art-historical meaning. It’s an interesting position, and it feels very different than a curator generating their own artwork through using other artists. When you end up curating work that on one level doesn’t seem like your own work, but obviously is because you’ve put it through filters, it’s a nice way of unsettling convention. […]
A *SHR: One might say that Rupert’s strategy is questioning the idea of authorship, the original, these kinds of things. There’s this idea of the object never arriving at the destination, but my hesitation with that idea is that you can say that Duchamp’s work never arrives at the museum, and yet we do look at Duchamp, we do talk about Duchamp, we do experience the work. So even if the strategy – and I’m not sure I would boil it down to that – but even if the strategy is sort of, ‘what is the original?’, I still have an experience of [an] original in the gallery. I’m not sure that there would be a problem with Rupert’s work using ‘techniques’ in that way because there’s still something that’s… the experience. […] What I like so much about the work is that it’s a flickering experience that goes back and forth. The pussy painting, in the middle there – I think, ‘I’d like it so much better if the cat wasn’t there’, but then I’m going back on it and saying, ‘OK, now I get it. That’s why the little pussy is there’. It’s a flickering experience; you’ve got this beautiful green-pink relationship that’s so gorgeous, although now I can see its relationship to the other paintings, and its voice in this collection. That, I think, is an authentic experience.
RN: You bring up a good point: with Duchamp’s work, there’s whatever theorist [Dalia Judovitz, in “Postponing the Future: Marcel Duchamp and the Avant-Garde” –ed.] saying his work is always delayed and it never arrives, but of course you do still have the artifacts. You can look at Duchamp’s work and consider ‘What is the authorial thought here?’ What is most interesting, when it actually comes into fruition, when he decides to make that expression, he’s very careful not to just go right for it. He’s always giving and withholding, and giving and withholding. It’s that dynamic between the author and the audience that I’m very interested in exploring.
A *SHR: That is my experience of your work. It’s [saying] ‘I’m this! No actually I’m this. Oh wait! No, you misunderstood, I’m this.’ […]
A *DR: I’m interested in this friction of gender that is happening in this show… What are you saying?
RN: It’s an easy place to go to find tensions. In all of the combinations and juxtapositions of images that I’m using, I’m looking for those tensions. I think that there is a back and forth relationship between myself and my source imagery. When I’m looking for imagery to be re-represented, I’m looking for things that incite a certain tension within myself.
To address gender, it’s like impressing an ambivalence that you’re not supposed to take on. Where what we see represented to us in terms of our presentation of women into 2012 and the 20th century is increasing objectification, increasing sexualization, increasing violence towards women and as a male subject I’m supposed to either take advantage of that or ignore it entirely. In terms of trying to address that imagery, in terms of trying to approach that content, I’m trying to find a way of talking about [a] position in imagery and in popular culture, but without putting it on too much – taking a hardliner position.
A *AL: I was wondering whether those questions would come up because 15 years ago, this wall, the two paintings on either end, would have been such hot potato items. The entire conversation would be around the objectification of women, and very heated. […] It makes me think about how much has changed culturally. I mean some things have shifted to the positive but a lot of back tracking, too, going on through how much pornography has insinuated itself into the culture and how that erodes things that were gained through feminism earlier on. There are all the pulls: using all male artists, using Richter, David, canons of Abstract Expressionism, the New York school. There is a very strong sexual politic. You are aligning yourself; there is an alignment going on. It’s intriguing to hear your relationship to that.
RN: It’s an easy source of violent imagery. I’m not totally certain in talking on that topic. Am I obliged to talk about how I’m making these images and that I think that violence against women is a bad thing? Am I obliged to justify it heavily in that sense? Or am I allowed to examine what these images are and examine what they mean to me in relation to my own sexuality, my own fantasies, my own whatever? I’m very grateful that I’m not showing 15 years ago because I know that would be the case and that’s part of the reason why I felt at liberty to work with this kind of imagery.
It’s much more in terms of finding those things that really do speak of an obscene excess, mostly represented through the internet, and how we move through images irrespective of what their nature and content is. […]
A *HM: To me Rupert’s embodying the modernist male-centric dandy. The Carl Andre thing, you immediately associate that with direct violence towards women. But also with this one [PublicDisgrace.com], taking it a step further and examining how you as a contemporary heterosexual male subject are confronted with extreme sexual imagery.
RN: When I’m working with these images, I’m looking for points at which I’m pushed beyond any comfort in front of the image. It’s definitely got to do with the relationship with photography. There is a very good book that I read a while back called “The Pornography of Representation” by Susanne Kappeler. She writes about photographing the pornographic victim, the violent murder victim, and how making that document is a second death. Really the subject of this painting is [the] act of the cell phone photograph and the photograph of that act. You’re taking this violent context and stabilizing it in the way that when someone dies, you put them in the ground and you stabilize their position, and place a marker.
A *DC: It seems that’s where the David painting is instructive. David didn’t only paint that as an aggrandizement of Marat, he actually arranged the funeral to Marat’s body, put it on display at his funeral in this pose, which is the scene of a murder. So there’s the violence. I think that’s an instructive story that speaks about what we do with images nowadays. […]
A *AC: Your position was to be essentially complacent or just ignore it. But by choosing such visceral images like that, I think you should speak about it a bit more, other than your exploration of your place in a patriarchal position. I find it’s just allowing yourself to continue that pattern of patriarchal acceptance. I’m curious to hear more about that. I know you’re taking an image from the Internet and… I like that you’re putting a border there. Yes, you are doing reproductions. But why did you choose such a visceral image? Why did you choose that one? Because it’s so tied to your own sexuality? Is that important? Is it important that it’s a woman versus a man?
RN: There is a way in which the disgusting can’t be assimilated by the aesthetic. There are many things that can be aestheticized but what is actually viscerally disgusting is one of those things that cannot. I felt a need to include that disgustingness, the anti-aesthetic notion, into the show. […]
I’m bringing [the image] in to talk about certain corners of the Internet, in a way. An organization called PublicDisgrace.com that feels like its within every right of their own to produce this kind of photograph, and to post it on the internet… this all goes, and it’s accepted, and at no point in the internet realm is anyone stopping to say, ‘what the fuck?’ My interest in taking that image and moving it out of that context was to create that stoppage, to say ‘what the fuck?’ To say ‘this is totally going on, it’s totally obvious what these people are doing and they know what they’re doing’. I was testing the gallery as a space for confronting those images because in the context in which they’re usually found, there’s no arena for questioning it.
A *DR: What I came to learn about public disgrace… The people who are being disgraced agree to it and there is an interview process. This is what I understand. Before the picture is posted, and after, [with] the people who are going to be disgraced in the picture there’s a consensual interview discussion about the disgrace that will take place. It’s a kind of fetish site for people who do want to be publicly disgraced. Do you know the history behind that site? I think that’s quite an important element to this piece. Seeing “PublicDisgrace.com” raises all these questions, but there is this whole agreement and willingness and desire to be disgraced…