Although Dominique Brebion focuses on Icelandic artist Erró—whose work is on view at the Renault Collection exhibition at the Clément Foundation in Martinique—and on the broad spectrum of remixes and reappropriations in art, his essay “Erró: citation ou remix?” invokes Caribbean artists who have also reworked or referenced classic pieces in their own artwork. Some example are Renée Cox (Jamaican-American), Joiri Minaya (Dominican-American), Oneika Russell (Jamaican), and Thierry Tian Sio Po (Guyanese). Here are translated excerpts; see Aica Caraïbe du Sud for the full article in French.
The works of Erró, presently on view at the Clément Foundation as part of the exhibition of the Renault Collection, help to better define the different plastic appropriations of masterpieces in the history of art: citation, remix, remake, or hijacking.
The reappropriation of earlier works as an artistic process has existed for a long time. Artists establish links of complicity, a certain dialectic between their works and those of the past, through the copy, the appropriation, borrowing, quoting, hijacking, parody, remix, or remake. How do we differentiate them?
Borrowing in aesthetics is what artists will draw, deduct, or take in an earlier work to incorporate it into their own practice. If the source is not mentioned voluntarily, the borrowing constitutes plagiarism; if it is involuntary, it is akin to a reminiscence. Real borrowing is therefore conscious and exposed as such, it claims to be a tribute. Jean Baptiste Corot’s “Woman with a Pearl” is a very personal transposition of the “Mona Lisa.” The small leaf on the girl’s forehead was interpreted as a pearl. The title also evokes the portrait of another young woman, that of Jan Vermeer. The skinned beef of Chaïm Soutine (“Carcass of Beef”) is inspired by Rembrandt’s skinned beef (“Carcass of Beef,” also known as “Slaughtered Ox,” “Flayed Ox” or “Side of Beef”) from which he takes the title.
In literature, a quote is a short excerpt borrowed from an author used to explain, illustrate, comfort. In a visual artwork, it is a direct reference to a known piece borrowed borrowing thematic or visual elements. Thus, Cindy Sherman proposes a photographic interpretation of Caravaggio’s young, ailing Bacchus.
The diversion, inspired by Marcel Duchamp but promoted by the Situationists, removes the cited fragment from its original context, often to exercise irreverent criticism. Duchamp seized the “Mona Lisa” in 1919 to create the famous “LHOOQ.” It is not a question of transforming a pictorial tradition but rather of diverting a work with humor and derision. Marcel Duchamp’s “LHOOQ” is an impertinent version of the “Mona Lisa” just like “Perspective: Portrait of Madame Récamier” is a diversion of David’s portrait, Bacon’s “Portrait of Pope Innocent X” of Velasquez’s painting, or Vik Muniz’s “Double Mona Lisa Peanut Butter and Jely” of Leonardo da Vinci’s work.
In 2006, Paul Ardenne theorizes a subtle difference between remake and remix. The remake is the reactivation of the original work out of its initial temporal context, so it is displaced in time. The remix is a cover of the original work for re-marketing purposes. [. . .]
Great masterpieces such as “Olympia” or Manet’s “Déjeuner sur l’herbe” are remixed in series, each revisited version breathes new meaning. Larry Rivers’s parody (“I Like Olympia in Black Face” 1970) is a good example of a remix. It is a critique of the stereotypes used for black representation in Western art as well as a critique of the U.S. context of the time, as shown by the systematic reversal of black and white. However the title “I Like Olympia…” seems to limit the contestatory thrust, since the artist uses the pronoun in the first person, I, and the verb to like = I appreciate, I like … The inversion of black/white deprives the conversation of its subversive dimension, while Larry Rivers’s subversion resides in this very inversion. Larry Rivers gives the piece a new meaning that did not appear in Manet’s painting.
One finds this criticism of the representation of Black presence in Western art in the interpretations of Olympia by Thierry Tian Sio Po and Oneika Russell, while other artists direct the work to other meanings. [. . .]
To discover Caribbean remixes, see:
[Above (in order): Thierry Tian Sio Po’s “Olympia,” Joiri Minaya’s “After Gauguin #3,” and Renée Cox’s “Cousins at Pussy Pond.”]
[Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. See original text (in French) at http://www.fondation-clement.org/Decouvrir-les-expositions/Renault-l-art-de-la-collection-Exposition-collective.]