The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

CLIENT: Do Not Sit On The Furniture, Mr. Alex Osborne

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction questions the “aura” of the work of art today, 80 years after Walter Benjamin’s article with the same name.

“Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, unique existence at the place where it happens to be.”

In our simulation, workers constantly reproduce the displayed work of art, by mechanically placing identical stickers on a conveyor belt. The reproducible stickers -digitally designed by Alex Osborne- constantly fill duffel bags that the same artist hand-designed one-by-one. (Mechanical) workers then transport the duffel bags to the Art Basel booth, where they are sold alongside other identical art pieces and other hand-crafted commodities such as wallets. Alongside the digital reproductions of art pieces, wallets and bags are offered for sale as well, thus equating commodities and art. Meanwhile, a video projection in the back shows footage of the Industrial Revolution and the Venus Project interchangeably. Set in Art Basel Miami, the epicenter of art commerce, the event is a spoof of the big art industry that has become synonymous with art. Meanwhile, on the back wall of the Art Basel booth, artist Jacq Farrara reacts by creating a collage composition ‘in unique time & place where she happens to be’. She carefully wheat-pastes pieces of (reproducible) abstract photos on the back wall and thus produces an art piece that is not mechanically reproducible. Meanwhile, an indoor stage welcomes musicians…

“Sphere of authenticity is outside the technical [sphere]”
“The aura is an effect of a work of art being uniquely present in time and space. It is connected to the idea of authenticity. A reproduced artwork is never fully present. If there is no original, it is never fully present anywhere.”
– Walter Benjamin

Video Gallery

Play Video

The Setup

More videos

Play Video
The Recap

Image Gallery