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The Curse of Originality

Neoism and Spanish Art are founded on replication as a non-organic form of change. In the culture of the copy, where simulacra deny orginary presence, it is only in the public presentations of these artforms (not the gallery, the museum, the referred journal, all of which buttress power relationships) that the curse chooses: Either abjure individuality and presence through boycotting the positions of cultural power; or replicate him-/herself through parodistic cloning, postmodern adoption of eclectic stylist disguises, copy machine proliferation.

Consider a name, any name, Monty Cantsin, say. The peculiar referentiality of that name calls into question the entire epistomology of the transcendental signified (to borrow from Husserl), of Kantian categorical imperatives and their dangerously idealized spiritualization of history, and not in the service of rendering people down into identical versions of one another in the final mise en abyme. Rather, since art in our time is trapped in parodistic gestures, Monty Cantsin writes finis to bourgeois individualism as a controlling cultural category through incorporating replication materialistically, physically. In Roman Jakobson's notion of the shifter as a grammatic label ("I") whose meaning is socio-linguistically not lexically determined, we have the explanation of the power of this replication.

So what is new ? And who cares, after all, what is new or old? Fashion, the whirling of changing surfaces, the at times hypnotic and at times violent succession of visual s which condition mass consciousness, uses categories of original and copy, authentic and falsified, real and artificial, and so on, to prop up a class system structured on division, contradiction, internal split. It is just this division in the heart of contemporary culture which Neoism has the effrontery to underscore.

Hence the absurdity of artists involved in Neoist activities trying to set the record straight by establishing a definite version of this history. Neoism's base in the European baroque is more than sufficient to provide the necessary orientation; any further efforts to say who started what can best be read as further ironies (at worst they are self-delusion). The real value comes not from rehashing biographies or crediting individuals, which only underscore the very curse or originality tbat Neoism's proliferations reject, but from focusing attention to the replication of the products of culture themselves, especially those which appear under the name of Monty Cantsin.

Harry Polkinhorn, 1986