Copy / Paste
The exhibition Copy / Paste intends to review the phenomenon of reproduction, replication and transcription in art. Although it is familiar it is still not well researched and the phenomenon is defined differently around the world. As far as it has to do with the Middle East, Copy / Paste, like a mirage, lacks a tangible cultural truth and is not translated completely or pragmatically. On the other hand, deliberation into the phenomenon of copying or duplication has been deeply discussed in European art circles in the context of the concept of ‘aura’. Also, from what we read into Islamic art, traditionalists believe duplication is a process in the transcribing of text. It plays a powerful role and has an artistic and philosophic character reflecting the world views of each school of thought.
Walter Benjamin in his article titled The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction for the first time challenges the techniques and basic aesthetics of reproduction. According to him, “the ‘aura’ of a work of art disappears with the ‘capability of mechanical reproduction’. Reproduction of an original work of art allows for the possibility of its ‘updating’ and is a response to the needs of the beholder. Of course, with the changes in the media over the past 50 years, and especially with the arrival of electronic media, the internet and social networks, the definitions fall subject to these changes. Even so it seems that Benjamin’s point of view is up to date.
A type of Copy/Paste (from the understanding that Benjamin has assisted us to arrive at) can be seen in Islamic ornamentation. Since Islamic art is prohibited from direct illustration, Islamic motifs achieve their identity and beauty from geometric patterns and calligraphy. Geometry and its influence is the main axis of this region’s cultural aesthetics. Repetition of the initial shape, is the foundation of Islamic ornamentation which shows a great understanding of space. The reproduction and transcribing of Holy texts, which was regarded as a para-religious practice, allowed the calligraphers an outlet to express their feelings and creativity, but minimized the readability of the text with cursive Arabic lettering in favor of aesthetic appearance.
In this digital age and era of globalization the phenomenon of reproduction has been intensified and accelerated. Even though this topic is connected to the advertising industry, in cultural and artistic discourse and phenomena such as biennials, it is regularly being challenged. The main axis of the work presented by the artists taking part in the Copy / Paste exhibition is their influence by reproduction in the areas of culture, environment, economy and media identity. In this way, they endeavor to answer questions that the production of art is now faced with more than ever before. Questions regarding authorship, printing rights, copy rights and lefts and such. At the same time they are concerned with the ability to identify the source and the control and manipulation of information in connection to the subject matter being presented.
Another subject is the limitation of the number of copies. ‘Limited editions’ (or multiple editions) create the possibility of enlarging the marketing scope for a finite number of copies of an original work of art. It can be said that perhaps they have become agents in promoting democracy in the art market, but naturally the exclusivity of each art work becomes vague.
These are the main concerns of this exhibition. Other subject matter of the project include: the art of forgery and plagiarism, reenactment, found footage and also the approach to propaganda, mass media and ecological monoculture.
Copy/Paste is a cultural and artistic attempt to introduce a collection of art meeting current world standards to the local Iranian art scene. Shahram Entekhabi, active artist and curator in both Europe and Iran, has created this project and brought it to fruition. All of the participating artists live in Berlin, and without exception are active on a global scope. Emphasis on artists living in Berlin, is not only because Entekhabi himself lives in Berlin, but that contemporary Berlin is a hub for international artists. Included are representatives of the national pavilion at the Venice Biennale; Candice Breitz (2005 and 2017), Egill Saerbjornson (2017), Vadim Zakharov (2013), Monica Bonvicini (1999, 2001, 2005, ،2011, 2015), Christin Lahr (2015), Christian Jankowski (1999, 2013) and Anatoly Shuravlev(2009).
Egill Sæbjörnsson has been selected to represent Iceland at the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale in 2017 and Candice Breitz and Mohau Modisakeng will present a major, two-person exhibition in the South African Pavilion, running from 13 May to 26 November 2017 in Venice, Italy. Candice Breitz, Birgit Brenner, Mathilde ter Heijne, Christian Jankowski, Christin Lahr and Karin Sander are professors in European universities and academies. Christian Jankowski was the curator of the “Manifesta 10” in Zurich. Helmut and Johanna Kandl, He Xiangyu, Karin Sander and Kai Schiemenz have all had art work and/or projects in international biennales and major museum around the world.
Conception and Curator: Shahram Entekhabi
Curatorial Assistant: Asiyeh Salimiyan