Art as Posession: From the Hearst Castle to Cleansed Bills

Hearst Castle

“The prime aim of these wild Xanadus (as of every Xanadu) is not so much to live there, but to make posterity think how exceptional the people who did live there must have been.” (Eco, p. 27).

Umberto Eco, in Travels in Hypperreality, asserts that America’s wax museums/Hearst Castle/Marilyn Motel etc. arise out of a “horror vacui” since we exist outside of a European, historical past and therefore we need to take fake possession of the real. This is similar to previous function of oil paintings in society. Berger in Ways of Seeing (see previous post) asserts that oil painting was a way of owning property in lieu of the real thing or as a demonstration of what one owned for society and posterity. Basically, its all about possession and value. How capitalist.

So I guess we Americans are left with a simulacrum of the real as a roads to possession. Eco continues that people seem to think if its a good enough simulacrum, such as the Hearst Castle, its almost better than the ‘real’ thing.

“Cleansed” bill in Draw your Money project.

Roland Farkas, a Slovakian artist in Hungary, gets at this notion with his 2011 project, Draw your Money, where he takes something literally capitalist, a banknote, and turns it into art. Draw Your Money involves cleansing banknotes of the ink markings that give them value. The artist removes the ink from paper money to create blank slates for drawings: “In this way the ink and paper of bills are recycled as materials for an original artwork, the value of which is greater than that of the denominated note from which it was created.”

Via Rising Tensions

In trying to thing of something intelligent to say, I poked around the internet and found this. Which kind of sums it all up if you were to throw in some dollar bills.

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