liberating the urban refrain
originally published in STUDIO magazine, #02_ ORIGINAL
Worldwide, artists produce duplicates of masterworks that respect virtually every detail; the density of paint, the smudges, the underdrawings, the scars, the wear of time. But yet there is something that transcends the mere physicality of the painting; why else would art travel as opposed to simply buying a replica?
The event when the Mona Lisa traveled to America in 1962, or the statue of David in 2006, was facilitated by the replicas that were put in-situ of the original. This act maintained the place’s identity and its subsequent urbanity while advancing political relations and developing novel cultural opportunities. Oppositely, we know some art only by their silhouettes left in dust on the wall and a small identification card that says ‘temporarily on loan.’
These two paradigms of authenticity question the significance of place and the performance of objects. A city’s identity is intimately associated with the spectacles in its fabric. The effervescence of network culture has forced the symbolic role that is traditionally prescribed to a piece of art to seek refuge in the gravitas of building.
The nomadic propensity of cultural identity is contradicted by the materiality of architecture that now represents it. Architecture is dialectically authentic both as a spatial construct and urban symbol. Employing both paradigms we can realize the full potential of architecture as a performative signifier by silencing the original and simulating its presence.