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Room for Zuzu (On photography, "readymades" and appropriation)

My friend Zuzu participted in a group show after a photography workshop she took at the CIC in Cairo. I went to see it and as always I had my camera with me. Upon entering the room I took out my camera and started taking pictures.

I was proud of my friend and I also wanted to document her first ever show. While taking pictures I was aware of the fact/irony that I am taking pictures of pictures. But still, I was trying to frame the pictures in my pictures in a way that made "sense" (for documentation purposes) but also I wanted the layers and positions of the pictures in my picture to have a meaning. It really helped that I had the creator and the model of the project with me as my model. Zuzu is a good model and this was her project.

She starting posing and interacting with her pictures for my pictures. The result was a series of beautiful pictures that both documented and added depth to Zuzu's project.

A while later I learned about appropriation in photography. About how a group of photographers loosely referred to as the Pictures Generation, questioned the originality of art work through various forms of image appropriation. One of those people for example is: Sherrie Levine.

On of many ways to deconstruct/question/unsettle the issue of "authorship, originality and expressivity" (Photography Today; writing by Mark Durden; photographs by various artists; 464 pages; Phaidon; 2014) is through image appropriation.

In my quest of trying to understand the factors that make a "good" picture, whatever that means, I found this form of photography very interesting. The concept of "readymade" is not new. Marcel Duchamp coined the term a long time ago and it's a known term in conceptual art and also in theater where the "readymade" exists in the form of someone who is an "expert" and this person goes on stage to talk/act/perform this thing they know best, without being actors they are also known as: "Experts Of The Everyday".

And while I find it crucial to question authorship and originality, I think that today, in this moment, we are at a moment in history where authorship and originality gets lost easily. In the age of digital multiplication, high res screenshots and Photoshop, anyone can claim any work of art, digital artists are especially vulnerable. I do realize there are still ways to determine the "originality" of a photograph, but that only happens on a certain high level. Many people's work gets lost in the middle.

I am not trying to convey a specific message here as much as just pointing out one of many contradictions we live in/between/with in the world and specifically the art world.

I am yet to understand what makes a photograph "good".

In the meantime, here are my appropriated pictures of Zuzu's pictures.


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