22d of June to 19th of July 2010 – Goethe-Gallery, Goethe-Institut Hongkong
Goethe-Institut Hongkong and Edith Russ Site for Media Art in Oldenburg, Germany jointly present, in collaboration with Hong Kong Film Archive, the exhibition ‘Culture(s) of Copy’, a follow-up exhibition of the Institut’s ‘History Will Repeat Itself – Strategies of re-enactment in contemporary (media) art and performance’ (curated by KW Kunstwerke, Berlin, and Hartware, Dortmund) in 2008 and an earlier study of the Asian concept of ‘copy’, which was presented in the photo exhibition ‘Chinese Copy Art’ by Michael Wolf in 2007 at the Goethe-Institut Hongkong.

The exhibition ‘Culture(s) of Copy’ initiates from the exhibition that the Goethe-Institut Hongkong presented two years ago under the title ‘History Will Repeat Itself’. As that exhibition took a Western approach, we had in mind to follow up the topic with an exhibition from a perspective that involves Asia. It became clear that the term REPEAT should translate into COPY. ‘Culture(s) of Copy’ is about the phenomenon of the copy as a global cultural strategy. The discussion of intellectual property, as it has already been treated in diverse ways, is only one angle from which one can approach the topic. The ‘copy’ here is understood positively as a remake, a cultural translation and an achievement (“You have to copy a master to become a master”, “The best way to appreciate a master is to copy him”). The phenomenon of the copy is seen as a rewarding opportunity to understand and reflect on cultural differences beyond the rather poor terms of a dichotomy of East and West.

The works presented can be divided into different topics (’Archive’, ‘Theme Park’, ‘Claim of authenticity by media represented reality’, etc.). Some works use the stocks of art history. Existing artefacts of the economy or art are treated as an archive that one can make use of. The repetition of known formats and content is not for the sake of repetition, but for the sake of a new definition. The maxim of originality is thereby deliberately ignored – in the age of “copy and paste”, the creation of the NEW is bound by repetition, variation and cultural translation. Other themes include the process of copying itself and the relationship between context and content. Many of the works deal with the question of authenticity in a world in which reality is mediated mainly through the mass media.

Interestingly, languages are no exception. They don’t deliver what they are supposed to do: to find a title for this exhibition that is applicable to both the English language as well as the Chinese language proved to be nearly impossible. Words don’t copy, they translate.

Gallery Hours