Accommodating the Mess: The Politics of Appropriation in It for Others (2013)

  • 1 Lancaster University (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)


In response to Chris Marker and Alain Resnais’s collaborative meditation on art and colonialism in Statues Also Die (1953), Duncan Campbell’s video installation It for Others (2013) takes a complex approach to presenting a Marxist criticism of the commoditization of art and culture. This article considers the intermedial and intertextual properties of It for Others as an example of convergence culture that transcends postmodern quotation and pastiche. While the film is apparently a bricolage of visual artefacts, it is in fact an intricately woven audiovisual essay concerned with the appropriation of not only colonized objects as its narration makes clear, but also of still images, moving images, written texts, sound samples, and the labour that produced them. The article examines how the film troubles notions of documentary realism and truth through its acts of appropriation that reflexively criticize the commercial appropriation and commoditization of artworks and histories. It also reflects on the film’s Marxist approach to related issues around authorship, ownership and access to artworks, particularly in the light of the film’s acknowledgement in prize culture.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Auslander, Philip. 2006. The Performativity of Performance Documentation. Performance Art Journal no. 84: 1–10.

  • Bazin, André. 1960. The Ontology of the Photographic Image. Film Quarterly vol. 13 no. 4 (Summer): 4–9.

  • Burke, Peter. 1995. The Invention of Leisure in Early Modern Europe. Past & Present no. 146 (February): 136–150.

  • Farley, Helen. 2009. A Cultural History of Tarot: From Entertainment to Esotericism. London; New York: I.B. Tauris.

  • Marx, Karl. 1976 [1867]. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. New York: Penguin Books.

  • Mulqueen, John and Jim Smyth. 2010. “The Che Guevara of the IRA:” The Legend of “Big Joe” McCann. History Ireland vol. 18 no. 1 (January/February): 46–47.

  • Mulvey, Laura. 2006. Death 24x a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image. London: Reaktion Books.

  • Nichols, Bill. 2001. Documentary Film and the Modernist Avant-Garde. Critical Inquiry vol. 27 no. 4 (Summer): 580–610.


Journal + Issues