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The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

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OCT 2020 Issue
The Miraculous The Miraculous: New York

24. (Park Avenue)

An artist makes a painting based on a screenshot of an Instagram post. In the post (and in the painting) we can see a young woman apparently being prepared for a photo shoot or a television appearance. Wearing a white bathrobe, she sits in front of a large mirror. Two men standing at her sides are doing her hair. In her left hand she holds a smart phone to take the selfie we see in her post. Underneath is the information that the post has garnered 5162 likes. There is only one hashtag: “#Selfie on Set!” At some later point, the woman posts a photo of herself, finger on chin, standing in front of the painting based on her screenshot (a painting she has added to her substantial collection of contemporary art) with the comment “To #selfie or not to #selfie…pondering one of life’s great questions.”

Two years later, after the woman’s father is elected to an important political office and she is hired as one of his advisors, the artist tweets a screenshot of the post where the woman stands in front of his painting. Underneath he writes, “This is not my work. I did not make it. I deny. I denounce. This [is] fake art.” Reportedly, he returns the $36,000 he received for the painting, leaving his public to sort out a dispiriting mise-en-abyme of ownership, authorship, patronage and power.

(Richard Prince)

Contributor

Raphael Rubinstein

Raphael Rubinstein is the author of The Miraculous (Paper Monument, 2014) and A Geniza (Granary Books, 2015). He is currently writing a book about the Jewish-Egyptian writer Edmond Jabès. A Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston School of Art, he divides his time between Houston and New York.

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The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

All Issues