Douglas Crimp
[Writer, theorist and critic, b. 1944, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, lives in Rochester, New York.]

 The desire of representation exists only insofar as the original is always deferred. It is only in the absence of the original that representation can take place. 
 Through reproductive technology, postmodernist art dispenses with the aura. The fiction of the creating subject gives way to a frank confiscation, quotation, excerptation, accumulation, and repetition of already existing images. Notions of originality, authenticity, and presence... are undermined. 
 ...a great number of [photographic modes]... have to do with reproduction, with copies, and with copies of copies. The peculiar presence of this work is effected through absence, through its unbridgeable distance from the original, from even the possibility of an original. 
 The strategy of the [directorial] mode is to use the apparent veracity of photography against itself, creating one’s fictions through the appearance of a seamless reality into which has been woven a narrative dimension. (1980) 
 Not only has photography so thoroughly saturated our visual environment as to make the invention of visual images seem archaic, but it is also clear that photography is too multiple, too useful to other discourses, ever to be wholly contained within traditional definitions of art. 
 [Cindy Sherman’s] photographs reverse the terms of art and autobiography. They use art not to reveal the artist’s true self but to show the self as an imaginary construct. There is no real Cindy Sherman in these photographs; there are only the guises she assumes. And she does not create these guises; she simply chooses them in the way that any of us do. 
 To an ever greater extent out experience is governed by pictures, pictures in newspapers and magazines, on television and in the cinema. Next to these pictures firsthand experience begins to retreat, to seem more and more trivial. While it once seemed that pictures had the function of interpreting reality, it now seems they have usurped it. It therefore becomes imperative to understand the picture itself, not in order to uncover a lost reality, but to determine how a picture becomes a signifying structure of its own accord. 
 ...nearly 150 years after its invention in the 1830s, photography was discovered, discovered to have been art all the while. 
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