Earlier in January I wrote quite a few postings in my Russian-language blog, centralasian, on art (both classic and contemporary) and on art (re) interpretations. Strangely enough, these ‘art-postings’ rarely migrate here, to the Playing Futures blog. For me their link to the ‘future theme’ is pretty obvious: I consider art as one of the most effective tool of probing possible futures and exploring new meanings, new ways of making sense (beside many other nice and useful functions of art, of course). Yet I never wrote these very words explicitly enough here, and without them the presence, for example, a review of the latest exhibition of Lucas Cranach or James Ensor may seem strange in the blog about the ‘futures’.
I may need to write a piece or two specifically on these issues; of how various aspects of ‘art business’, including its production, presentation and representation, and of course ‘consumptions’ and recycling, are of high importance when we want to better understand – not the past, but the future of any given culture. But for now I would limit this argumentation by this very one sentence, and instead will tell about a new art project I’ve recently complied.
About half a year ago I undertook a somewhat similar exploration (see Contemplating Reinterpretations posting, and the slideshow linked there); I wrote back them that it was a pleasant, playful process, of gathering and re-interpreting someone else’s re-interpretations of Las Meninas (starting from the grand project by Pablo Picasso).
But it wasn’t only a fun, a bunch of lulz, I gained a few interesting insights, on the whole labor of re-interpretation, re-making, re-appropriation of the art works. I never managed to write them down properly, being busy with more serious businesses all the time.
I then bumped, quite serendipitously, into a very different painting, a notoriously famous duo portrait of Gabrielle d’Estrées et une de ses sœurs. Like many, I have been puzzled, once again, by its enigma, and googled for the most recent versions of the explanations. Similar to Las Meninas I found a large array of visual re-interpretations and mock-ups of this art work. But while browsing through all these remakes and parodies, I also got a feeling that they are distinctively different from those ones of the Velázquez’w work. They have been much charged, filled with new meanings, as if hacked for certain other purposes.
These observations were more intuitive and subjective, of course, more in the area of feelings than thoughts. For my own curiosity I gathered a few dozens of various re-interpretations, but this time trying to preserve more carefully their context (i.e., author’s statements of intent, or an inclusion in larger series or projects, that sort of things).
Only much later I discovered a new and very interesting version of the ‘true’ meaning of the painting. Apparently, this piece was a part of larger series of three, and was commissioned and executed as a sexio-political cartoon of those time, aimed to insult – not even Gabrielle d’Estrées, but the next mistress of Henry IV, Henriette d’Entragues (you can read the story, in French, here).
And then again, how to explain this feeling of mine, that the very exercise of gathering of, and reflecting upon these art reinterpretations gave a good hunch – not only about the enigma hidden in the painting(s), but about the cultural tissue of today, and how it may unfold into the future? Need to think more on these issues, but want to put the first stub here already; plus, the slides are ready anyway, and can be enjoyed without the deep thickets of philosophizing.