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X Marks the Bökship

Statements on Appropriation, (June 9th 2010, X marks the bokship, London) Michalis Pichler

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Statements on Appropriation                        (June 9th 2010, X marks the bokship, London)

1. Probably the wheel, just as the telephone, too, was invented more than once.

2. The words in a new book might be the author’s own words or someone else’s words.
A writer of the new art writes very little or does not write at all.

3. there is as much unpredictable originality in quoting, imitating, transposing, and echoing, as there is in inventing.

4. Copying and Copyright have become such contentious issues because a gulf has sprung between post-Duchampian, postmodern artistic practice and a still Modernist-Romantic interpretation of copyright.


6. Like Bouvard and Pecuchet, those eternal copyists, both sublime and comical and whose profound absurdity precisely designates the truth of writing, the writer can only imitate a gesture forever anterior, never original

7. We cannot precisely say what is not appropriation. Impossible to draw a categorical line.

8. Intellectual Property is the oil of the 21st century

9. For the messieurs art-critics i will add, that of course it requires a far bigger mastery to cut out an artwork out of the artistically unshaped nature, than to construct one out of arbitrary material after ones own artistic law.

10. It appears to me, that the signature of the author, be it an artist, cineast or poet, seems to be the beginning of the system of lies, that all poets, all artists try to establish, to defend themselves, I do not know exactly against what.

11. The authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning, ranging from its substantive duration to its testimony to the history which it has experienced.

12. Ultimately, any sign or word is susceptible to being converted into something else, even into its opposite.

13. Custom having once given the name of ” the ancients ” to our pre-Christian ancestors, we will not throw it up against them that, in comparison with us experienced people, they ought properly to be called children, but will rather continue to honor them as our good old fathers.

14. if a book paraphrases one explicit historical or contemporary predecessor in title, style and/or content, this technique is what I would call a “greatest hit”

15. Maybe the belief that an appropriation is always a conscious strategic decision made by an author is just as naive as believing in an “original” author in the first place.

16. Certain images, objects, sounds, texts or thoughts would lie within the area of what is appropriation, if they are somewhat more explicit, sometimes strategic, sometimes indulging in borrowing, stealing, appropriating, inheriting, assimilating… being influenced, inspired, dependent, indebted, haunted, possessed, quoting, rewriting, reworking, refashioning… a re-vision, re-evaluation, variation, version, interpretation, imitation, proximation, supplement, increment, improvisation, prequel… pastiche, paraphrase, parody, piracy, forgery, homage, mimicry, travesty, shan-zhai, echo, allusion, intertextuality and karaoke.

17. any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another.

18. It is nothing but literature!


On June 9th, 2010, six one-sentence statements originated by Michalis Pichler for the purpose of this piece were mixed, in a container, with eighteen one-sentence quotes taken from various other sources; each sentence was printed onto a separate piece of paper.
Eighteen statements were drawn by “blind” selection and, in the exact order of their selection, joined together to form the “Statements on Appropriation,” for a presentation at X marks the bokship, London in the context of PUBLICATION AS PRACTICE / A short course on concepts of artists’ publications.

In the following bibliography the sources (…) may be found, although no specific statement is keyed to its actual author.

Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author,” in Image Music Text, trans. Stephen Heath (New York: Hill and Wang, 1967).

Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” in Illuminations, trans. H. Zohn (New York: Schocken, 1963).

Marcel Broodthaers interviewed by Freddy de Vree (1971) in Broodthaers (Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1994), 93.

Ulises Carrión, “The New Art of Making Books,” Kontexts no. 6–7, 1975.

Giorgio de Chirico quoted in Allen Ruppersberg, The New Five-Foot Shelf of Books (Ljubljana: International Centre of Graphic Arts, 2003).

Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (Paris: Editions Buchet-Chastel, 1967) trans. Ken Knabb ( 1992); see:, paragraph 206.

Guy Debord and Gil J. Wolman, “Mode d’emploi du détournement,” in Les Lèvres Nues #8. See Ken Knabb, “A User’s Guide to Détournement” (2006).

T. S. Eliot, “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, ed. Frank Kermode (London: Faber, 1984), 37.

Mark Getty, chairman of Getty Images, in an interview with The Economist (2000).

Kenneth Goldsmith, “Being Boring,” in The Newpaper 2, (2008), 2.

Herakleitos of Ephesos, quoted by Plato in Cratylus, fragment 41.

Julia Kristeva, “Word, Dialogue and Novel,” in The Kristeva Reader, ed. Toril Moi (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1986).

Comte de Lautréamont (Isidore Ducasse), Poésies (1870), ed. and trans. Alexis Lykiard (London: Allison and Busby, 1978), 68.

Dear Images: Art, Copyright, and Culture, eds. Daniel McClean and Karsten Schubert (London: Ridinghouse, 2002).

Allen Ruppersberg, “Fifty helpful hints on the Art of the Everyday,” in The Secret of Life and Death (Los Angeles: The Museum of Contemporary Art, 1985), 113.

Kurt Schwitters, “i (ein Manifest),” in Kurt Schwitters—Das Literarische Werk, vol. 5, ed. Friedhelm Lach (Köln: Du-Mont, 1973-1981), 125.

Leo Steinberg (1978) in Schwartz Hillel, The Culture of the Copy (New York: Zone Books, 1996).

Max Stirner, The Ego and His Own, trans. Steven T. Byington, (New York: Benj. R. Tucker, 1907).

See also: Douglas Huebler, Variable piece #20, 1970.

About the Author
Michalis Pichler works and lives in Berlin. His most recent “greatest hit,” Der Einzige und sein Eigentum (The Ego and Its Own), is an appropriation of Max Stirner’s 1844 manifesto of the same name.

Written by bökship

June 11, 2010 at 4:00 pm

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  1. […] post by Michalis Pichler, asks some interesting questions of appropriation. Courtesy of the very nice […]

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