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

 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. 
 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) 
 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. 
 ...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. 
 Browsing through the stacks of the New York Public Library where books on the general subject of transportation were shelved, I came across the book by Ed Ruscha entitled “Twentysix Gasoline Stations,” a work first published in 1963 and consisting of just that: 26 gasoline stations. I remember thinking how funny it was that the book had been miscatalogued and placed alongside books about automobiles, highways, and so forth. I knew, as the librarians evidently did not, that Ruscha’s book was a work of art and therefore belonged in the art division. But now, because of the considerations of postmodernism, I've changed my mind; I now know that Ed Ruscha’s books make no sense in relation to the categories of art according to which art books are catalogued in the library, and that is part of their achievement. The fact that there is nowhere in the present system of classification a place for “Twentysix Gasoline Stations” is an index of its radicalism with respect to established modes of thought. 
 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. 
 ...nearly 150 years after its invention in the 1830s, photography was discovered, discovered to have been art all the while. 
 [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. 
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