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

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

Abstract

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.

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