“Richard Prince @ Lowell” (2014)

Kelly Madison (Profile)

Kelly Madison (Profile), 2014

17″ x 22″ c-print mounted on board

By Owen Campbell, for ASX, April 2014

For a small audience in a two-room suite on the thirteenth floor of the Manhattan’s Lowell Hotel, Richard Prince showed a series of enlarged prints of screenshots taken from his twitter account. The show, which Prince and others had publicized as BEPAD via his twitter, featured new works an artist’s books byPrince’s Fulton Ryder, Karma NYC and Harper’s Books of East Hampton, New York.

Prince’s images, 17”x22” C-prints of mobile-interface twitter accounts, are feints at the depiction of outsized personalities – drag queens, art dealers, porn stars – ripped from their context and placed in an alien environment, one with three dimensions. They convey a sliver of identity with one or two tweets and, like snapshots, create archives of a moment in time that may or may not capture something interesting. They also inform the viewer that while Prince may have received your DM, if you are one of eight people he had not, at the now immortalized juncture of this screenshot, read your message.

 

J. Robert Feld (Profile)

 

 

J Robert Feld (Profile), 2014

17″ x 22″ c-print mounted on board

 

At first glance the project seems as another step in Prince’s tradition of rephotography, but there is a crucial and qualitative difference between this and Prince’s most widely-known works, Spiritual America and the untitled series of Marlboro men. Whereas such works were photographs of photographs and as such, secondary documents, screenshots are the primary method of creating static documents to represent the digital terrain. The screenshot is almost exactly analogous to traditional photography’s representation of the physical world, in that as the elements that comprise traditional photography -paper, light, chemicals, film – are of the physical world the elements that comprise a digital image, pixels, are the same that compose the visible component of the digital world. As Gary Gross actually looked at Brooke Shields before taking the photograph that would be rephotographed and become Spiritual America, Richard Prince actually looked at Alexis Penney’s twitter profile before recording a still image of a dynamic virtual environment.

It is also, of course, an act of bravado which further de-romanticizes the idea of art and artist and dares traditionalists, romantics and aestheticists alike to call it not-art. If what you think of when you think of art is something you make with your hands that takes a lot of time and psychic energy you’ll probably find Prince’s Twitter series offensive, maybe even personally insulting. Conversely, if one believes that a society makes art out of the same material with which it crafts its daily experiences this project seems pure, unavoidable, even innocent in it’s simplicity.

 

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(All rights reserved. Images @ Richard Prince and courtesy of Fulton Ryder.)

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