## Wednesday, June 24, 2009

### horse figurines 2: mali

looked for horse figurines on the web, and came across these right away:

horse figurines from mali (ceramic, national museum of mali, period unknown, 15-30 cm)

well. if i ever needed some confirmation that something african seeped into my sculpture...! and aren't they just lovely?

## Tuesday, June 23, 2009

### horse figurine

as promised somewhere in an earlier post, i'm putting up some pictures of a horse statuette -now owned by a friend and recently loaned to me for a showing in st. anthonis- which i made around 2001, and which sparked my practice of painting sculptures.

(looking at the pictures now, i'm reminded that of my earlier feelings that this figurine would look good on a larger scale also.)

horse (own work ~ 20 x 14 x 6 cm ~ clay, acrylic ~ 2001)

## Saturday, June 20, 2009

### flamingo man: art appropriation taken too far?

ralf kwaaknijd, flamingo man (45 x 10 x 10 cm, wood & flamingo feather, 2009)

ok, one might ask, what is art appropriation? well, see wikipedia:
In the [(visual arts)], to appropriate something means adopting, borrowing, recycling or sampling aspects (or the entire form) of man made visual culture. The Oxford English Dictionary defines appropriation in relation to art as 'the practice or technique of reworking the images or styles contained in earlier works of art, esp. (in later use) in order to provoke critical re-evaluation of well-known pieces by presenting them in new contexts, or to challenge notions of individual creativity or authenticity in art.". The term appropriation refers to the use of borrowed elements in the creation of a new work (as in 'the artist uses appropriation') or refers to the new work itself (as in 'this is a piece of appropriation art'). The artist who uses appropriation may borrow image, sound, objects, forms or styles from art history or [(popular culture)] or other aspects of man made visual culture. Inherent in the process of appropriation is the fact that the new work recontextualizes whatever it borrows to create the new work. In most cases the original 'thing' remains accessible as the original, without change.

so i bought the above flamingo man by ralf kwaaknijd, at a friend's price and therefore dirt cheap actually, as a treat and to inspire me in my new studio (see previous post).

but i have to say, i'm irritated by flamingo man even though i know i'm being played by kwaaknijd to provoke just such irritation. this is very irritating also, to say the least.

kwaaknijd plays with appropriation, as other contemporary artists also do, some all the time, some sometimes. but in this case he might be going a step too far, i think. he took a beautiful, poetic, introspective nigerian sculpture of a man (unknown tribal artist, although he tells me is still researching its origin and will attribute better once he knows more) and simply stuck a flamingo feather in his hand. to then claim it as his own work.

there is more to this than meets the eye, because i confronted ralf about this. i put to him that i found this appropriation to be an extra theft, on top of the already physical theft of an enormous amount of african art by western collectors. (see my previous posts on tribal art). and in fact a theft of a worse kind. because now kwaaknijd also claims the artistic credit, one would say the one inappropriatable element left the original artist.

however kwaaknijd at once responded to me by email, and gave permission to reproduce his reply here:

Dear Frank, you still don't get it do you? Flamingo man is precisely a statement about the theft of art from the primitive' cultures - so primitive' that Picasso, Giacometti, you name it, all took their forms and ideas and became famous with them.

Apart from the purely visual beauty of flamingo man (you will have to admit that the feather is transformative!) I wished to demonstrate that one can steal easily from the unknown tribal' artist. (S)he cannot protect her/himself. One buys a sculpture, and the material possession opens up a can of worms of artist's rights' infringements.
Perhaps you will recall the utterly shaming history of the song the lion sleeps tonight? Please look it up to see what I mean (I even saw an American performer claiming it as his own in some historic footage, but I don't recall precisely where).

Yet, flamingo man can actually help by drawing attention to this, I feel. So yes, you are right, appropriation a step too far, that is precisely the idea. But I do not wish to profit from it. And since I appreciate you taking the time to really reflect on my work, if you wish I will sell it to you for the price that I paid for the sculpture, the flamingo feather you get for free.

This way you can own a real Kwaaknijd, and maybe reappropriate it!

Kind regards, Ralf

so now i'm the proud and somewhat ambivalent owner of flamingo man'. the hell of it is, i have to admit that the flamingo feather is transformative, yet i'm still irritated by kwaaknijd's `easy' claiming of the work. perhaps i'm being too calvinist, feeling that art can only come about by putting in a lot of effort, or maybe i'm just jealous of this postpostmodern hype.

anyway, i'm really glad with flamingo man. to look at a sculpture like that, originating from my great inspiration: african sculpture! it feels wonderful to have it in my studio for daily looking at it.

### new studio!

yes i have a new studio, for painting! i'm really happy with it. i still have a small studio in the back of our garden, but we will be using it as a small home office for the next year or so. (the new studio is temporary, might also last two years though).

southern light...supposedly not the best, but with a wonderful skylight, and on the first floor with unobstructed windows...quiet atmosphere, some friendly other artists, and of course my sculpture workshop in the same building. well, what more could one wish for?

took this picture when i had just put in a few things. bit more organized now, but i intend to keep it very empty. beautiful acoustics too, for guitar playing...

and if you look carefully, you will see that i treated myself to a sculpture too (a ralf kwaaknijd! see next post).