“Good artists copy, great artists steal,” Pablo Picasso famously stated. A great quote, but when it comes to great art, where does the line fall between copying, reimagining, and stealing? Basically the same thing, right? Whether a subtle nod to an artists’ muse or the more outspoken and obvious repurposing of creative content, the undertone of flattery is inherent. While “copying” may force artists, audiences and historians to question the validity or originality of a piece of work, it is an equal display of admiration and respect.
Real-time art merges with historical archive in Emily Spivack’s An archive of everything worn to MoMA from November 1, 2017, to January 28, 2018 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Asking museum-goers to text a list of what they or someone around them is wearing at the time of their visit, Spivack projects the descriptions in various locations throughout the museum. Once completed, the project will capture “an impression of a specific period of time at the Museum through vernacular descriptions of clothed bodies.” In essence, Spivack achieves exactly what a painting might do—seizing a specific, self-contained moment, recording it for posterity.
In what might be the most significant attempt by a major museum to tackle the subject of gender fluidity in contemporary art, Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon opened last month on September 27th at the New Museum. The exhibition gives voice to over 40 intergenerational and multi-disciplinary artists investigating “gender’s place in contemporary art and culture at a moment of political upheaval and renewed culture wars.” The collective work explores “gender beyond the binary to usher in more fluid and inclusive expressions of identity.”