Despite knowing that photographs can be manipulated, we tend to accept news and documentary photographs as reportage of real events; their purpose is to inform us about something happening somewhere, and to tell us something of the truth. Art, however, rarely claims to be objective, factual, dispassionate, or balanced in commenting on world events; providing timely, accurate information is not its purpose. Yet for centuries, art has had a role in representing real events, and artists continue to draw from global news and issues to create work. This paper addresses work by several contemporary artists who base their two-dimensional images on real events. Referring to the theories of Henri Bergson, Paul Crowther, Jean Fisher, and Jacques Rancière, amongst others, it considers whether art, more than news reporting or photojournalism, comes close to telling the truth.
The utilization of ready-made content is a powerful current in contemporary art, taking the form of such practices as parody, rephotography, photomontage, simulation, and quotation. Whether used in part or in whole, appropriated imagery is often intended to question meaning and originality in contemporary culture. Yet, despite its ubiquity, the incorporation of pre-existing imagery is not without risk. Since the 1960s, copyright cases have escalated among notable artists, such as Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. In many such cases, the unlicensed reusage of imagery plays a strong role in the creation of message, particularly with works intended to be a commentary on consumerism or popular culture. Yet, some artists, such as American photographer Richard Prince, seem to create artworks in order to invite legal reprisal, as if ensuing copyright lawsuits are the true subject matter, not the appropriated content itself. The purpose of this article is to explore and introduce a new artistic category, which the author classifies as legal performance art. Participants range from legal counsel and the judiciary to members of the press and the consuming public. Pleadings, exhibits, and press coverage become part of conceptual framework of the performance. This radical shift in venue and scope challenges the traditional definition of the artwork, fragmenting it amongst countless sites, thereby revolutionizing the concepts of production, participation, and viewership.
A visit to an art institution is expected to require visitors displaying certain etiquette and adopting certain social conventions. For example, the architecture of the building and the physical context of the galleries as well as the spatial arrangement and the gilded framing of the exhibits seem to raise certain expectations while informing and shaping visitors' decorum. Nevertheless, visiting a museum is also a social event with the majority of visitors arriving as part of a group. Following Goffman's dramaturgy and frame analysis theory, this article draws upon videotaped fragments of visitors at least in dyads at the Courtauld Gallery, London, UK, in order to explore their embodied visiting and viewing practices. By focusing on the ways visitors connect with the collection as well as socially share parts of their experience with each other, this article aims at challenging the notion of the visitor being static and the museum experience being ocular centric.