Nikolaus Gansterer - Bureau of Found Appropriations, 2008
"'The Bureau of Found Appropriations (Département des Sourires) ' is a work which is part of a long-term study on strategies of appropriation and forms of production (and reproduction) in Asia. My main attention is directed towards differences, misinterpretation and errors committed in the process of translating and copying cultural commodities. How can an image be read, used, interpreted, understood without knowing its cultural context?"
Living in China for three months in 2008 Gansterer explored the Dafen district in the Southern provinces. Here, approximately 10,000 painters live and work. Specializing in specific styles of painting from the old masters to contemporary aesthetics the artists work to produce more than five million copied paintings annually.
"The reason why this use of imitations strikes western societies as a serious cultural difference has to do with a strong historical correlation between painting and calligraphy: in China a good copy is often considered as a reward and honour to the technical and compositional skills of the initial inventor and master. Memorization is taught as the manually repeated imitation of an original; hence gaining knowledge is based on a culture of transcription. Therefore the terms of originality and authorship are culturally coded in a different way. By regarding these gaps with their potential shifts of meaning as a source of inspiration I started compiling a growing collection of images reflecting on cultural practices, identities and authenticities."
|Making of Mona Lisa, China, 2008|