“Plagiarism should be celebrated,” declares Chris Habib, author of Plagiarist and organizer of Printed Matter’s group exhibition HELP/LESS. While visual artists experimented with appropriation in the ’80s, plagiarism remains an unaddressed source of consternation in the textual realm. It makes most authors mad, but not Habib.
Printed Matter attempts to redeem these castaways in HELP/LESS. Habib and the staff of the Chelsea bookstore display a host of unabashedly “cleptoconstructed” works and experiments in appropriation. They intend to take public culture, warp it to different ends and ensconce it in new narratives, justified by Habib’s belief that culture has an unequivocal right to draw on its own substance.
The show indulges a range of experiments in textual and visual appropriation, all between two covers. Richard Prince pokes fun at the late, litigious J.D. Salinger by reproducing Catcher in the Rye and crediting himself as the author. In Betty Kline, Prince matches Irving Klaw’s photographs of Betty Page to Franz Kline’s abstract works. The two artists worked in the same building; Kline reportedly used Page for inspiration. One of Chris Habib’s personal favorites is Brian Kennon’s take on Christopher Wool’s Secession. Originally filled with polaroids of Wool’s studio, its contents are completely replaced by John Smith works.
Printed Matter will offer a series of events, many of them involving the showcased artists, around the exhibition.