Activity included on BMAV20 program, Bienal de Mujeres en las Artes Visuales – MAV
The project FAKE MAGAZINES, ¡AHLAN!, KALAS and VOWEI, by the artist Nuria
Carrasco falls within the concept of the Photobook, the artistic format where print is both the medium and the artistic material. It is as if a sculptor opted for wood and not for bronze to create an artwork. Although artistic movements such as Fluxus have published journals and created editorial projects, the utilization of the magazine as the medium for a work of art is a relatively new area of artistic investigation. Together, these three publications pose a question: Does a work of art created on glossy-coated magazine paper instead of traditional materials contain an innovative element in contemporary artistic production?.
In fact, I propose that the issue of copyright should not be part of this inquiry. Since the French theorist Roland Barthes declared the death of the author, appropriation has become an accepted strategy, leading many critics to concern themselves more with what an artist wants to transmit and less on whether or not the works are imitations or plagiarisms. Although magazines present some peculiarities in terms of intellectual property, such as the masthead and graphic design, the act of analysis of FAKE MAGAZINES focuses more on context and content and not on if the project reproduces an existing artwork. Specifically, in the case of magazines, the question of originality is even more complex and relative. Magazines, in general, are never made by one person, as in the case of the Carrasco project.
Another interesting aspect of FAKE MAGAZINES is its critique of the core of popular commercial publications, that is, the promotion of consumption that emanates from their pages. Advertising is the main source of revenue and is vital for survival. The word “magazine” (magazine) comes from Arabic (makhazin), and is related to “warehouse” – a site where everything is for sale. Carrasco also creates advertisements, the essential tool for a publication ́s survival. However, the ads in Carrasco ́s magazines are ironic collages that not only contain large aesthetic and artistic doses but also contain imponderable and delicious prototypes of manipulated images. The advertisements created on purpose for AHLAN!, KALAS or VOWEI underline the consumerism that popular magazines propagate and encourage.
If the death of the author has opened a field of artistic experimentation, then
one of the most important limitations that prevents us from viewing magazines as
art is the question of the “aura” normally attributed to unique works of art. This question, naturally, originated in the debate between Theodor Adorno / Walter Benjamin, two cultural theorists of the School of Frankfurt, and in later incarnations in the historical narrative of western art. While Adorno proposed that art should remain separate from reality and, in fact, deny reality in order to sustain its sanctity and avoid degradation, Benjamin saw the potential of the new modes of production and reproduction in altering the accepted societal cannon.
FAKE MAGAZINES is a project where photography occupies a dominant position. The photographs go beyond documentary photography and use the printed image in publication format as a receptacle for social and cultural ideas and opinions, as a record of the times we live in. The materiality of the magazine underlines the character and mood of the places and environments in which they were created. It may be anodyne to refer to magazines as time capsules, but they really do encapsulate very specific periods and circumstances. They transform multiples into art objects, transform social and cultural representations into aesthetic artefacts. Herein lies its provocative potential.