News From Nowhere (Made in China) (2010) is a set of 40 oil paintings depicting tourists in front of the gate of the Forbidden City in Beijing, with the iconic portrait of Mao in the background. Some photos were made by the artist himself and others were appropriated from travel photo albuns posted on the Internet by tourists. Despite the change of the anonymous faces, the act of shooting and the theme are always repeated on these pictures. Once selected the images, the paintings were then made by order of the artist in a painting factory in China by different workers/craftsmen.
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NEWS FROM NOWHERE (MADE IN CHINA) - BY MARIANO KLAUTAU FILHO
By appropriating digital camera self-portraits - made in Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City in Beijing - in circulation on the Internet, the artist selects a set of them and sends on demand for a Chinese studio whose team of professional painters manually reproduces with photographic accuracy every appropriated image on oil paint. Trained for faithful reproduction works of art on a large-scale, these painters print a factory mark in the process of the artist that indicts paradoxes and cultural contradictions.
Between the documental recording machine and the manual gesture of the painting under the command of mass production; between the tourist photography devoid of authorial expression and the painting that simulates faithfully; between the supposed capitalist democracy of the images and the supposed communist valuing of the talent and particular manual skills, the artist creates a panel consisting of forty paintings. These small canvases are the result of a chain without beginning or end whose dynamics is made in the multiple shift of an authoring without name or face formed in the culture of images.
By proposing the pictorial reproduction of the self-portrait photographs widespread on the network, the artist also takes a nineteenth century phenomenon determinant the clash between photographic culture and pictorial tradition: the abandonment of the office of the miniaturist painter in favor of the new profession of portrait photographer. Thus, the artist recalls a revealing path of the process of the making, circulation and consumption of images in the global culture and contemporary art in which the notion of authorial photography falls apart.
Text on the work "News from Nowhere (Made in China)", for the exhibition "The Artist as Author / The Artist as Editor", curated by Tadeu Chiarelli, held at MAC USP in June 2013.
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