Monday, November 05, 2012

Appropriation, artist

The very interesting The New Inquiry has a forthcoming article (presently subscribers-only), Being Damien Hirst, an interview by Jesse Darling of Slovenian Damien Hirst, who tweets and has other social media presences.  The whole thing is worth reading, especially for people interested in trademarks, authenticity, and attribution.  Some highlights:

I did consider Jeff Koons, but because I wanted to appropriate the very spirit of contemporary art, it really had to be Hirst.

… The point of Paris Hilton is that she’s famous for being famous. This is the same logic that defines contemporary art, in that the art of Damien Hirst is expensive for being expensive. The point of my project is to shake the balance of this logic. What happens if people start believing that the cheap and meaningless art I make is created by the greatest artist of our time just because I appropriated his name?

… The highest sum I ever got for a single piece was €100. Of course I realized right away that something was wrong, so I contacted the buyer and asked him if he actually knew what he paid for. Obviously he didn’t; he thought he bought an “original” Damien Hirst, even if that “original” Damien Hirst was just a scribble on a piece of notepaper. He was too embarrassed to ask for a refund once I’d explained things to him, but he got the money back anyway because I am not a scam or a fraud or anything like that, and I don’t care about money.

… The disclaimers are because too many people seem to believe I am the British Damien Hirst, despite the fact that the art I do looks like crap, and is crap. I got sick of explaining this to everyone, plus it made me feel guilty, even though it isn’t my fault if people get fooled.

But it doesn’t seem to help all that much, since people still want to believe I am the British Damien Hirst. I don’t know if it’s because people don’t read what’s written, or because people don’t believe what’s written; it annoys me how people can’t seem to see the difference when it’s so obvious, but if you can’t see the difference between the crap Slovenian Damien Hirst makes and the “great art” British Damien Hirst makes, just because they share a name, then this only goes to prove my point.

… I contacted [Hirst’s gallery] some years back and asked them directly if they would approve what I was doing. They said no. At that point I considered giving up on everything. But then I thought they were such hypocrites—warning me that what I was doing was a trademark infringement, while also knowing that one of Damien Hirst’s major works was a much more severe case of trademark infringement, and defending it for being an artwork. They had a different opinion of what I’m doing, because it’s against their interests. But then I realized they’re just running a profitable business, so why should I care what they think about my art since they don’t give a damn about art in the first place?

… I sincerely consider Damien Hirst to be the best artist of our time. I don’t have anything against Damien Hirst and even if I did, I don’t think I could do anything to damage his brand. Quite the opposite: by doing what I’m doing I am helping his brand gain relevance. For me Damien Hirst is just the paint I use to create my paintings.

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