19 / 03 / 2013


The copy tells us: “I’m enjoying this” (Marina Gržinić)

Imitation, copy, remake. Words that refer to a particular connection between one cultural product and another that preceded it. Analyses of association type in the relations between reproduction, repetition, plagiarism, fake or falsification, interpretation or inspiration, simulacrum, parody, pastiche, burlesque, satire, the long citation... have abounded since the publication of Jochann Joachim Winckelmann’s famous "Thoughts on the imitation of Greek works in painting and sculpture" (1755). Tackling the notion of “original”, be it to criticise or to yearn after it, seems to be the order of the day, an end in itself. As it is to isolate the phenomenological character of the copy-without-original1 that the simulacrum becomes, related with the end of history2 and the image in endless loop mode.
With “The problem lies in the medium”, my project for HPC, I set out to rethink these categories as subjects within a historic relation or, which is more of the same, to rethink the relation itself. The project comprises three phases, in the dialectic sense, which I shall now situate:

1. Correspondence
“Pretty Woman and other stories, a film with Alexander Kluge” (2011-12), my most recent film at the time of writing, proposes the concept of a hypothetical re- editing of the North American film under the aegis of the German director. It is precisely here that the first phase begins. “Pretty Woman and other stories...” questions the category of copy, for it is actually more of a re-write. Its images stand at a level of survival vis-à-vis their own past (Pretty Woman, films by Alexander Kluge, archive), wrested from the pretence of their original construct and violently relocated within a new discourse. The words of Marina Gržinić ring out here, in that she sees the association between “original” and “copy” as an ‘assymetric” relation “of domination and submission”3 . I partially share Gržinić’s opinion. The objective of this first stage is grounded exactly in this asymmetry. To this end, since above all else a relation is a kind of correspondence, I will be sending a letter to Alexander Kluge along with the film. My purpose is not just to make contact (paying my respects, expressing my admiration for him), but also to close off an escape route from the logic of kidnapping that operates, according to Baudrillard, in every copy. So, this letter may also be taken as a kind of ransom demand.

2. Displacement
The relation of domination and submission that Marina Gržinić perceives between copy and original does not discern that different temporalities penetrate each of them. Or that copy as category (the original too) never completely matches the wide range of variables in such an association. That is exactly why I ruled out cases of excessively literal repetition for this project. I wished, on the contrary, to project examples of rewriting, attempts at dialogue with preceding works, where nothing is seeking to impersonate anyone and repetition is countenanced as an act of re- updating. A fundamental displacement opens them up to the difference. A basic imbalance.To make this displacement clear I considered inviting an expert on the subject of copy, original, reproduction, and so forth, in the shape of historian and museologist Walter Benjamin, who will offer a lecture at the Bilbao Museum of Reproductions entitled “The Unmaking of Art”, regarding the relation of copy with art history and museum art.In parallel, in the Consonni office I shall periodically make provisional combinations of two-three works (of film, videographics) that start out from the rewriting of preceding cultural products. By comparing the original and the rewrite I aim to make clear what the project title mentions: that the problem lies in the medium 4: the dialogue between the original and the rewrite unveils the historicity of the construction of all discourses and thereby puts to the test and questions the powers and dynamics of tension that produce them. For it shows that to contemplate the relation between both categories solely through the conjuncture of an intertextuality that is assumed to be ad infinitum, is to reduce the potential of resignification.The setting up of the space in this manner is also offered to the public as a place of mediation and encounter with the work archive I will be working with. The idea is not to limit spectatorship either to the space itself or to the montages that are produced. The archive will be available to anyone who asks to make use of it, following the rhythms of their routine, in their own home.

3. Performativity
So I ask myself the following question: is it not perhaps an act of resignification to perform the signified, that is to say, to stage, in the present tense, what is broken from certain apparently consolidated spaces of significance? The duplicity at the junction of both works, an unquestionably fascinating mirror effect, compels towards a leap, a movement that only makes sense in the act itself, like that of a tightrope walker. The original would not so much be the first work, but the one upon and/or with which there is something that can and must be said regarding what is happening in the (temporal) space where the copy is presented. The point therefore of this third phase is to emphasise performativity as a motor element of a copy-original relation, against interpretations that prioritise defining the categories as if they were deadlocked pawns.Consequently, given that there are material production conditions (first and second phase), as a synthesis of the project I have proposed to carry out the rewriting in theatrical dialogue of a chapter of the “Aesthetics of Resistance”(1975- 1981), the “red thread of history”5 , written by Peter Weiss6. The rewriting will happen through various rehearsals in which I will work the two characters from the play (a Swedish nurse and an exiled German communist) in dialogue with the actresses, who I have requested be of the same nationality as their characters. The project will conclude with a final rehearsal.

“THE PROBLEM LIES IN THE MEDIUM” project by Pablo Marte for Consonni HPC, 2013.


1 “(...) una representación que parece referir un modelo real pero está solo simulando su referencia. Según Giuliana Bruno, los replicantes en Blade Runner ‘son un completo fraude. Parecen humanos, hablan como humanos y tienen sentimientos, pero no historia’ (...) Su futuro está en la posibilidad de adquirir, alcanzar un pasado; su futuro está en la constante tentativa de formar una identidad persistente en el tiempo” (“Fiction reconstructed: Eastern Europe, Post-socialism and the Retro-avantgarde”. Marina Gržinić, 2000, cit. en “What is Modern Art (group show) - Preface”, Inke Arns, 2006). Extraigo conclusiones bien diferentes de la idea expuesta por Bruno, via Gržinić. La figura del replicante apela a la única eternidad materialmente susceptible de ser vivida: lo provisional. La falla no reside en la búsqueda de un pasado, sino en el conocimiento exacto del momento del off. Contradice toda lógica de la vida en serie, puesto que lo provisional se sustenta en una repetición infinita del ciclo de nacimiento y muerte. Tal es la política del replicante. Se rebelan para conseguir un espacio nocturno en un canal de televisión que perdure más allá de la existencia. Anhelan la tranquilidad y el descanso de la inopia y del no-tiempo. No buscan historia, reivindican la ahistoricidad.

2 “Da la impresión de que la mayor parte del arte actual se aboca a una labor de disuasión, de duelo por la imagen y el imaginario, a una labor de duelo estético, las más de las veces fallido. Esto acarrea una especie de melancolía general en el ambiente artístico, el cual parece sobrevivir en el reciclaje de su historia y de sus vestigios. Pareciera que estamos dedicados a una retrospectiva infinita de lo que nos precedió, pero esto es cierto para la política, es cierto para la moral, para la historia, y para el arte también, que no detenta ningún privilegio. Todo el movimiento de la pintura, por ejemplo, se ha retirado del futuro y desplazado hacia el pasado: con la cita, la simulación, la apropiación, al arte actual le ha dado por retomar, de una manera más o menos lúdica, más o menos kitsch, todas las formas, todas las obras del pasado, próximo o lejano, y hasta las formas contemporáneas, eso que Raysel Knorr, un pintor norteamericano, llama "el rapto del arte moderno” (“La ilusión y desilusión estéticas”, Jean Baudrillard, 1994)

3 “Procesos de encarnación en fronteras: Tanja Ostojic y la diferencia mínima”, Marina Gržinić, 2009

4 “El problema está en el medio” juega además con los múltiples sentidos de la palabra “Medio” (es realmente una palabra muy abierta). Mitad, centro, media, de utilidad para un fin, modo, ambiente, sustancia, renta, formato...

5 Juan Pedro García del Campo - Quimera - http://info.nodo50.org/El-hilo-rojo-de-la-Historia.html6 No es casual la elección de Weiss: él re-escribió en obra dramática “El Proceso” de Kafka (“El Nuevo Proceso”)


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