The image of the other
by Paula Borghi.
Text written for the project Art Book.
Of all the famous quotations, maybe the most pertinent to this situation is “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes”, by Andy Warhol. An artist who needs no introduction, Warhol photographed celebrities, created them and became one of them. In Polaroides Surfaces (1969-1986) there are photographs of professionals already acknowledged in their careers, such as Mick Jagger, Jane Fonda and John Lennon, as well as the ones who became famous in the Factory under the care of Warhol, such as Edie Sedgwick and Arnold Schwarzenegger. If today politician Arnold Schwarzenegger (better known as “The Terminator”) is a public figure, what surely boosted his career was the public attention received when posing as a model for Warhol in 1977.
Warhol literally created a factory, expanded the idea of product and exonerated the distinction between instant celebrity and a can of soup. For the artist, a silkscreen of Marilyn Monroe reproduced repeated times took as much time to prepare and consume as a silkscreen of a campbell’s can. The artist brought a new sense of time to art, the time of the instantaneous, which can be found both in the fresh news and the fresh meat.
The exchange currency that permeated the relationships at the Factory was not necessarily money; the desire to be (in other words, I wanna bee) was what relationships were about. While Edie Sedgwick, better known as the “poor rich girl”, found buyers for the works of Warhol, the artist became an icon of pop art. Mentor for the Velvet Underground band and the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, among others, Warhol knew how to choose his friends.
Would it be that the future enunciated by Warhol is the present in which we find ourselves? Today, the instantaneous artists are those who at 20/30 years old take part in Biennials, and that, at 40, disappear as fast as they have appeared. The market absorbs a young artist as fast as one prepares a Campbell’s soup can: all you have to do is open the can, heat it up and consume it.
Frequently, lists of the best artists and curators are published in magazines and blogs, usually presenting the 10, 50 or 100 ‘most relevant’ ones. However, the most desired format are the hardcover, bilingual books with over 200 hundred pages, preferably, with an average of 10 critic texts of overview presentation and a text dedicated to each one of the artists; books that weigh at least a kilo and have attractive covers to be displayed on coffee tables in the living or waiting rooms. Being part of a book such as Ice Cream is like having a VIP ticket to museums and art institutes. But the rule does not apply to all kinds of books.
The book Brazilian Art Book, a Brazilian example of this format of publication, is not as fortunate as the Ice Cream. The Brazilian Art Book, which periodically presents names of the Brazilian art, is already in its sixth volume, and every year it gains more pages, without necessarily presenting a better content. Misconceived from the choice of language for the title, the book presents to the reader a compilation of artists who are always in the same restaurants where its editorial board is.
When coming across books such as the Brazilian Art Book, I ask myself about the real need of this kind of format. What is the relevance of this publication to art? Would this format not be restricted and warped? Is being part of a book a certification to step into History? Would a publication of this importance not be a marketing platform to value only a few artists?
These are some of the questions that arise when I think of the ART BOOK, by Bruno Moreschi, that, just as the Brazilian Art Book, has its title in English and 3 cm by 4 cm photographs of the artists in it, is too heavy to provide a comfortable reading and presents generic texts to describe the production of the artists in it. But what moves Moreschi to edit a book such as the ART BOOK? Would it be that this author seeks fame through the artists in this book? What would his relationship with the artists be?
I put myself at risk analyzing the creative process of Moreschi similar to that of Andy Warhol, as both use the image of the other to strengthen their names. For, just as Edie Sedgwich and Arnold Schwarzenegger had their careers urged by Warhol, the same occurs with the 50 artists presented in the ART BOOK. Thus, I ask, “What would the author of such a book aim for?”
This question added to the likeness to the creative process of Warhol, I understand the ART BOOK as a perverse means to reach not only the 15 minutes of fame, but also a way to write the name of the author/editor in the art history. I conclude that Moreschi is a surprising perverse creator/editor and he will surely be successful.
* Paula Borghi graduated in Visual Arts from Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado (Faap), part of the group of critics of the Centro Cultural São Paulo and curator of the Red Bull Art Residence. Since 2011, she has carried out the Projecto Multiplo investigation, displayed at spaces such as the MoMA – PS1, in the Contemporary Art Museum in Quito and in the University of Córdoba. She lives and works in São Paulo.