How to document, keep records, and give credit

I don't have a formula for this myself yet, but documenting and giving credit is gong to be an important part of making work at ITP and beyond.  After reading ON THE RIGHTS OF MOLOTOV MAN Appropriation and the art of context By Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas, a painter and a photographer whose work the painter referenced, this practice feels even more important. 

When a collage artist pulls an image out of an old magazine, is the image free to use as a building block of creating new meaning? Was Romare Bearden supposed to keep track of every source he used? Does it depend on how much he distorted the original image? If a photograph is highly abstracted and only parts of it are used, one may think that perhaps giving credit to every photographer of every newspaper clipping is superfluous. In reality, we see that it's better to keep a record just in case. The Romare Bearden of today ought to be more diligent in keeping records and adding disclaimers that the referenced material is taken out of context, severed from it's previous meaning, and should be reinterpreted in the new ecosystem the artist created.

If it becomes important to borrow not just the form (visual element) of the clipping (or bitmap) but also the original meaning it carries, the artist is required to research the subject of the photo in order to explain the context accurately in the artist statement or wall text.


Collage by Romare Bearden

Collage by Romare Bearden