Yes, it seems by accident, (mostly reviled) appropriation artist Richard Prince gave an emerging conceptual artist his Gagosian debut. This is SUCH a convoluted idea, see if you can follow.
My friend Sean Fader is a conceptual artist and photographer. We met in 2009 at the casting call for Bravo’s reality series Work of Art and have remained friends ever since. I wrote about his project “Sup?” here, where he photographed 100 guys that he met on Grindr, before and after “dating them. His latest project has been #wishingpelt. The New York live event for his performance of #wishingpelt was at the PULSE Art Fair and previously at SPRING/BREAK Art Show. Over the course of nine days, Fader stood on a platform for a total of 80 hours and visitors were invited to whisper a wish in Fader’s ear, run their hands through his chest hair, and seal the wish with selfie tagged on Instagram or Twitter with #wishingpelt. I’ve also written here about Richard Prince’s current Gagosian exhibition New Portraits, where he “appropriates” other people Instagram photos, adding his own (some say misogynist) comments. It happened to feature an Instagram pic from Sean‘s #wishingpelt series. In May, one of those wish-granting selfies ended up in Prince’s Instagram feed, and is now a canvas at Gagosian. Sean told Hyperallergic;
“I’m really interested in the idea of re-appropriating my own work and taking the work out of the frame that he’s put it in, re-engineering it to continue the conversation that I was interested in from the beginning, and shifting the work back to that space. I struggled for a while to decide how I felt about it. When I went and saw it I was fuming. I would be psyched to be appropriated into work that was good. I just think the work is flat. It flattened the work in a way that I was not thrilled about its denial. By not communicating with me, by not talking to me, he denied every level of shared authorship, or engagement, all of those things that were so important to me in the work. That’s what irked me about the whole thing. So Prince made his move, now I’ll make mine.”
Instead of dwelling on the way that it felt to him and taking legal action, Fader staged an appropriation himself, sending out a press release (see crop of it below) inviting people to view his work at Gagosian “in an exhibition organized by Richard Prince.” Smart, huh?
Richard Prince: New Portraits, including Sean Fader’s “#wishingpelt” photo, ends tomorrow at Gagosian, so if you’re on the upper east side, go over and take a selfie in front of it to make your own statement and repost on Instagram to add another more personal layer to this never-ending art story.