It was the buzz word of my degree and my ‘practice’ (the practice, if there still is one, is no longer my own: it has a life of its own). I used it so much that in the end it became kind of meaningless. Free dictionary thinks: ap·pro·pri·ate
Suitable for a particular person, condition, occasion, or place; fitting.

tr.v. ap·pro·pri·at·ed, ap·pro·pri·at·ing, ap·pro·pri·ates
1. To set apart for a specific use: appropriating funds for education.

2. To take possession of or make use of exclusively for oneself, often without permission

In an art context, we talked of appropriation as taking something and changing its use or function or context so that it became something else. I used the term very specifically when I made work that only made sense in the context of the work I was responding to (in other words, I hung on coat tails). All work could be thought of as some kind of a response, but I seemed to be very good at avoiding responding to the blank page, the clear sheet, the white space, the emptiness. For a very long time I assumed this was because my imagination was weak, or my creativity had been impaired in some way. The truth is that I’m just so much more interested in the things other people do as a result of their creativity. The starting point becomes the loaded, ambiguous, thought provoking work of other people (artists?).

I’ve been religiously listening to Nouvelle Vague’s Bande a Part since I bought it a week ago, and it struck me that I’m ideologically taken with the album as an act of appropriation. The way that Nouvelle Vague go about contructing an album by adapting music in existence bears a striking resemblance to the way that I think about making art work. This may also account for the very limited enjoyment I get from transforming blankness.

Despite my tendency to overcomplicate and overanalyse, there’s something fundamentally simple about why I love Nouvelle Vague: it’s carnal – the music makes my body move, it seems to charge me in an almost electrical way. Check out ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ to see what I mean.


One thought on “Appropriation

  1. Dear readers (all three of you)

    unfortunately, my latest upgrade of wordpress has gone catastrophically wrong and the blank screen of death is now preventing my logging into the admin part of the site. Until I find a solution (but where do you start with a blank screen?!) there will be no further posts.
    I’m sure you’ll get over it.

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