and Plagiarists

Renée Vara


All dilettantes are plagiarizers. They sap the life out of and destroy all that is original and beautiful in language and in thought by repeating it, imitating it, and filling up their own void with it. Thus, more and more language becomes filled with pillaged phrases and forms that no longer say anything; one can read entire books that have a beautiful style and contain nothing at all.2

I’m confused about who the news belongs to. I always have it in my head that if your name is in the news, then the news should be paying you. Because it’s your news and they are taking it and selling it as their product. But then they always say that they are helping you, and that’s true too, but still, if people didn’t give the news their news, and if everybody kept their news to themselves, the news wouldn’t have any news. So I guess you should pay each other. But I haven’t figured it out fully yet.3

From this initial video message to his preinaguration press conferences to more recent YouTube clips and weekly talks, Obama has transformed the function of the president elect, just as he transfigured the presidential campaign into an Internet phenomenon. Streaming from the Office of the President- Elect, a nonplace or any place, Obama proclaims his virtual presidency. The easy acceptance by the public and the media of this novel authority-after some initial Where’s the president? Nowhere – attests to the way people live today, in online encounters and communities.4

C. Only to the extent that the bourgeoisie adopts concepts of value held by the aristocracy does bourgeois art have a representational function. When it is genuinely bourgeois, this art is the objectification of the self-understanding as articulated in art are no longer tied to the praxis of life. Habermas calls this the satisfaction of residual needs, that is, of needs that have become submerged in the life praxis of bourgeois society.5

I put on rouge and wash my hands in front of the whole world.6

The Soul has moments of Escape –
When bursting all the doors –
She dances like a bomb, abroad,
And swings upon the Hours,

As do the Bee – delirious borne –
Long Dungeoned from his Rose –
Touch Liberty – then know no more,
But Noon, and Paradise – 7

Living things that we classify as gifts really grow, of course, but even inert gifts…are felt to increase—in worth or in liveliness—as they move from hand to hand. The distinction—alive/inert—is not always useful, in fact, because even when a gift is not alive it is treated as if it were, and whatever we treat as living begins to take on life.

Moreover, gifts that have taken on life can bestow it in return…Even if miracles are rare, it is still true that lifelessness leaves the soul when a gift comes toward us, for the gift property serves an upward force, the goodwill or virtù of nature, the soul, and the collective. (This is one of the senses in which I mean to say that a work of art is a gift. The gifted artist contains the vitality of his gift within the work, and thereby makes it available to others…).8

The book was the first mass-produced object. It was the first repeatable and uniform product. The process by which this kind of product was to achieve was a process soon extended to many other forms of making. The process consists in the extreme fragmentation of the ancient craft of the scriber. Printing from moveable type is not only an analytic procedure of fragmentation, but it fathered similar fragmentation in many areas of human perception and human action.

It is precisely on this process of analytic fragmentation that all the fabrics of modern production, marketing, and pricing were built. It is a process that dissolves with the advent of electric circuitry. The dissolution of this process can be illustrated from the effects of xerography on book publication. Xerography makes the reader both author and publisher in tendency. The highly centralized activity of publishing naturally breaks down into extreme decentralism when anybody can, by means of xerography, assembled printed, or written, or photographic materials which can be supplied with sound tracks.9

The main facts about the Chanel show are these: the collection was inspired by writing paper – Mr. Lagerfeld is a complete antique in that he doesn’t use a word processor – and all the clothes were white or black and white. What made the show a rare pleasure was Mr. Lagerfeld’s supreme ability to concentrate on a single idea and find endless ways to express it…And ever so often Mr. Lagerfeld would halt his stream of thoughts across the page with a punctuation mark – say a short dress embroidered all over in black sequins with a draped panel at the back.10

AND LIKE GREAT ART, words wielded well have the power to alter the way we see the world. That’s why in these rapidly changing times, the role of the calm-voiced and clear eyed reporter is more vital than ever. I didn’t go to journalism school...Throughout this sometimes exhilarating, sometimes debilitating roller-coaster ride, we’ve kept our head and our journalistic integrity. Although I have lamented the sniping that has characterized much of my colleagues’ reporting during boom years – which I’m certain has been informed by no small dose of schadenfreude – I must point out that we are by no means the industry’s in-house cheerleaders, nor are we Pollyannas purveying feel-good tales and happy endings to an audience that craves them. Nevertheless, I feel our cover is justified in trumpeting the “brightside” identified by our estimable international editor, Souren Melikian, in his column beginning on page 45.11

Renée Vara is an independent and private curator whose interests focus on social spaces, relational aesthetics and performative practices outside the context of institutional and corporate structures. She retains a Master’s degree in art history from Hunter College/CUNY and has served as an Adjunct Professor at New York University for over 10 years. Renée has also been a guest lecturer at the Guggenheim Museum (NY), Sotheby’s Institute, American Association of Museums and the Appraisers Association of America. As a curator, Renée has organized exhibitions at the 9th Istanbul Biennale, Scope, Hunter College Gallery, and ArtHaus Miami(07). Her voice has been heard in both printed and live media such as Forbes, Wall Street Journal, ArtNews, Flash Art, Turkish CNN, US News & World Report and Whitewall.


The following sentences are not my own. They are someone else’s words and are reprinted exactly as found in the original. The authors quoted here may or may not be quoting someone else’s text properly. Quotation marks are omitted throughout with this author’s implicit goal of reading the texts unburdened, but knowingly, that all are quoted directly. This author takes no responsibility for this text or for the references of sources from the authors cited herein.
Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Werke. (Weimarer: Ausgabe. Nachtrage 1768-1832), vol. 47, 313. Rpt. in Jochen Schulte-Sasse, Theory of Modernism, versus Theory of the Avant-Garde: Foreword, in: Peter Bürger, Theory of the Avant-Garde, (Theory and History of Literature) vol. 4 trans. Michael Shaw, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press: 2004) ix.
Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again),(New York: First Harvest, 1975), 78.
Lynn Tillman, The Virtual President, Artforum (January, 2009): 69.
Peter Bürger, Autonomy of Art in Bourgeois Society, Theory of the Avant-Garde, trans. Michael Shaw (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press,1984), 47-48.
Marie Antoinette, July 12, 1770. As quoted in: Antonia Fraser, Marie Antoinette (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001) 67.
Emily Dickinson, Departed to the Judgement. Emily Dickinson: Poems Selected by Ted Hughes (London: Farber and Farber, 2001) 21.
Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World 2nd ed. (New York: Vintage Books, 2007) 32-33.
Marshall McLuhan, The Emperor’s Old Clothes The Man-Made Object, Ed., Gyorgy Kepes, (New York: George Brazillier Inc., 1966), 90-95. Rpt. in Marshall McLuhan Unbound, vol. 20 Ed. Eric McLuhan and Terence Gordon, (Berkeley, CA: Ginko Press, 2005) 12.
Cathy Horyn, In Paris, a Nod to Old Masters. New York Times (January 29, 2009):E7.
Anthony Barzilay Freund, Letter from the Editor, ART + AUCTION (January 2009):10.

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